Focus Shifts to Raqqa as Iraqi Troops Hunt ISIS “Sleeper Cells” in Mosul

Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) celebrate in the Old City of Mosul. (Alaa Al-Marjani / Reuters)

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIS in the battle for Mosul on Sunday. The Iraqi leader, draped in his nation’s flag, was met with raucous cheers from some of the battle-hardened soldiers who ousted the Islamic extremists from what had been their biggest urban stronghold in the country.

ISIS first took control of Mosul in June 2014, as the militants stormed across northern Iraq. The U.S.-led coalition started carrying out airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq later that year.

As CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports, Mosul was a hard-won victory, and it cost thousands of Iraqi lives, and even on Monday, fighting continued in the liberated city.

Iraqi troops pushed slowly into the last sliver of ground in Mosul’s Old City, along the west bank of the Tigris River, where ISIS fighters are holed-up.

Iraqi special forces commander Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil told the Associated Press that even after that patch of land is reclaimed, his men will still need to conduct clearance operations to find and destroy ISIS “sleeper cells” and hidden explosives.

Fadhil and other commanders say hundreds of ISIS fighters are likely still hiding inside the Old City, and using their own family members — including women and children — as human shields.

“There’s no accurate estimate for the Daesh fighters and the families who are stuck there,” Lt. Gen. Abdul-Ghani al-Asadi, another special forces commander, told the AP, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

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