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Mosul, IRAQ — The Federation of Arab Journalists reports that forty-seven Iraqi journalists were killed, while fifty-five others were wounded while covering and accompanying security troops during battles in Mosul.

In a statement on Thursday, the federation offered felicitations to Iraqi journalists who covered the details of the battles in Mosul, praising the victory achieved by security troops

On Friday, two Iraqi journalists were killed as Islamic State militants attacked Imam Gharbi village in Qayyarah, south of Mosul, Iraqi News reports.

An Iraqi and French journalists were killed in June in an IED blast in Mosul’s Old City.

The first Iraqi slain journalist in 2017 was Abdul Qader al-Qaisi, who was kidnapped and then found by security forces in January. His body was dumped on the road between Kirkuk and Baghdad. Another journalist Afrah Shawqi was abducted for nine days and then released.

A report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in December seven reporters were killed in Iraq in 2016, out of a total of 57 who were killed in conflict areas across the world. Syria came on top of the death tally with 19 victims. The total for 2016 was, however, a drop from the 101 death count of 2015.

In October, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Iraq was the world’s top country in terms of impunity regarding journalists’ killing, attributing the fact to the involvement of extremist militias in the murders.

As AFF reported earlier, the US-led coalition announced that Iraqi forces have officially retaken Mosul from the Islamic State, more than three years after the terror group overran the city in June 2014.

“The global Coalition fighting ISIS congratulates Prime Minister al-Abadi and the Iraqi Security Forces on their historic victory against a brutal and evil enemy,” Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement. “Make no mistake; this victory alone does not eliminate ISIS and there is still a tough fight ahead. But the loss of one of its twin capitals and a jewel of their so-called caliphate is a decisive blow.”

U.S. Central Command said there are still areas of Mosul that must be cleared of explosive devices and there are possible ISIS fighters in hiding, but Iraqi forces now “firmly” have control of the city.

Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aridi had said days ago that “the women are fighting with their children right beside them,” adding that “It’s making us hesitant to use airstrikes, to advance. If it weren’t for this we could be finished in just a few hours.”

The coalition said during ISIS’ occupation of Mosul, militants destroyed many of the city’s religious and cultural treasures, brutally murdered thousands of civilians and used mosques, schools and hospitals as bomb-making facilities.

The ISIS militants had committed another historical crime by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret.

The 850 year-old Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that leader of the ISIL group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the so-called caliphate of the Takfiri terrorist group, shortly after the flashpoint city fell to terrorists in June 2014 and became their de facto capital in Iraq.

The Iraqi operation to recapture Mosul, the key ISIS stronghold in Iraq, began in October 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s Eastern part in January 2017.

The Iraqi Army started a new phase of its military operation in Nineveh province late February to drive the ISIS terrorists out of their bastion in the Western part of the city of Mosul.

The militants also continue to use civilians as human shields as they try to hang on to the last bits of turf, enlisting all of their family members to battle the Iraqi forces.

The General Command of Iraq’s Joint Operation announced Saturday that the country’s forces have driven ISIS out of the Old Mosul district and paved the way for the full liberation of Mosul city from terrorists.

Speaking Monday from a small base on the edge of Mosul’s Old City, where heavy clashes had been under way for days, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraqi forces had achieved victory “by the blood of our martyrs.”

He has made similar announcements in recent days despite ongoing clashes, and visited Mosul on Sunday to congratulate Iraqi troops.

The U.S.-backed Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake Mosul in October, and in recent days they had confined the remaining militants in an area measuring less than a square mile.

The battle for Mosul killed thousands and displaced nearly 1 million people.

God Bless.

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