Irbil, Iraq (CNN)Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has arrived in Mosul to announce victory over ISIS forces in that city, his media office said in a statement.
Iraq’s PM arrives in Mosul, says ‘the great victory is at hand’
“Al-Abadi said the battle is settled and the remaining pockets of ISIS are encircled in the last inches of the city,” the statement said. “It is a matter of time before we declare to our people the great victory.”
The Prime Minister said the Iraqi military is fighting to free civilians whom ISIS is “using as human shields in approximately 50 to 100 houses.”
Earlier Sunday, he tweeted that he’d arrived in the “liberated city of Mosul” and “congratulates the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people in achieving this great victory.”
Video showed al-Abadi walking through streets in Mosul as crowds cheered him.
Mosul is Iraq’s biggest metropolis outside of Baghdad, and gaining control of the city was one of ISIS’ most significant strategic wins. When the terror group seized Mosul in June 2014, it also took control of more than 2.5 million people and subjected some to horrors.
It beheaded people in public, threw gay men to their deaths from the top of buildings and made prisoners out of men who did not grow beards and women who did not wear Islamic clothing such as burqas.
In October last year, al-Abadi announced the start of the mission to retake Mosul, using a diverse coalition of about 100,000 troops.
Mosul has been considered one of the main entry points for foreign fighters coming into the country.
As fighters flocked to Mosul, hundreds of thousands of residents fled, prompting a refugee crisis.
The city is also near some of Iraq’s most vital oil fields, as well an oil pipeline that services Turkey. Securing these fields could bolster Iraq’s economy and hit ISIS’ finances hard, as the militant group sells oil illegally to fund its operations.