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No peace yet in Iraq (or Syria)

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Saddam Salih Ahmed, who was injured when his house was hit by an explosion, sits on his damaged street on the west side of Mosul, Iraq, July 13. Iraq’s U.S.-backed forces succeeded in wresting Mosul from the Islamic State group but at the cost of enormous destruction. The nearly nine-month fight culminated in a crescendo of devastation — the blasting of the historic Old City to root out the final pockets of militants.

©Felipe Dana/The Associated Press

The shooting was still going on down by the river last week when Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi dropped by and prematurely declared that the battle for Mosul was over. He was misled by the various Iraqi army, police and militia units who were competing with one another to declare victory first, but now it really is over — and there is little left of Mosul.

The siege began Oct. 17 last year, so it lasted nine months — longer than the Battle of Stalingrad. It probably killed more civilians, too, because the U.S.-led air forces were used to compensate for the shortage of trained and motivated Iraqi ground forces.

Individual ISIS snipers were regularly taken out by air strikes that levelled entire buildings. Life is returning to some of the east-bank suburbs that were retaken last year, but there is nothing to go back to in the oldest part of the city on the west bank, where ISIS made its last stand. And the level of destruction has been almost as high in a lot........

© The Telegram