Talking up the idea that the Anbar Province capital of Ramadi will soon be captured, Iraqi PM Hayder Abadi today announced that Mosul, the largest city currently held by ISIS, is the next target, and will be “liberated” shortly thereafter.
The fight over Ramadi has taken much longer than previously expected, but with Mosul much larger and far deeper into ISIS territory, it’s been long seen as virtually untouchable. Before the war, Mosul had an estimated 1,500,000 people living in it.
The loss of Mosul was the start of a precipitice round of defeats for the Iraqi military nationwide in 2014, with defensive troops routed quickly by ISIS attackers. Following the loss of Mosul, ISIS quickly seized most of the Sunni Arab parts of the country.
Mosul has been hugely valuable for ISIS, both as a major city and because they looted large amounts of money from the city’s banks during the takeover, a cache of treasure that has left them the richest jihadist group in the world ever since.