Islamic State ‘will have no religion’ after IS victory

Islamic State (IS) militants have been driven out of Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul and have been forced to flee the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The US-led coalition announced that it had retaken Mosul in September, just weeks after the group captured Tikrit, Iraq’s third-largest oil city.

But IS militants have continued to hold territory in Mosul, and on Sunday, Iraqi security forces recaptured the city of Ramadi, a strategic location in western Anbar province that lies in the centre of the country.

“IS fighters are now in complete control of the city and the surrounding area,” said Lt-Col Brian O’Connor, a spokesman for the US-backed Iraqi forces.

“The security situation is now secure and the group will have no religious beliefs whatsoever in the city.”

The city of Nineveh province, where Mosul sits, is in the hands of a separate Kurdish-led militia called the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).

The PMU, however, has not taken Mosul.

It is not clear whether the Iraqi forces would retake the remaining areas of western Anbara province, home to Mosul and Ramadi.

According to US officials, the Iraqi military will have the final say over the future of Iraq.

“It will be the Iraqi government that ultimately makes the final call on the fate of Iraq,” said Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis.

Iraqi forces are now holding the northern Iraqi city of Hawija, about 300km (180 miles) south of Mosul, after IS fighters retreated from the city in the summer of 2014.

It is believed to be a key route for foreign jihadists seeking to infiltrate Iraq.

The US-trained Iraqi army has been unable to recapture Hawija due to a lack of resources and manpower.

Since June 2014, more than 3,000 Iraqis have been killed and millions displaced as Iraq’s security forces and militias fight to drive IS from the country and restore the rule of law.