A delegation of Iraqi generals met with reporters in Washington on Thursday and expressed their gratitude for the coalition support that made the liberation of Mosul possible.
"They really helped us when it comes to sharing intelligence information and the aerial imagery that they shared with us," said Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, an Iraqi military spokesman, who thanked the U.S. and its allies for providing much-needed help from above.
"The continuous aerial coverage that they gave our forces on top of the equipping, training, and support that we received from our partners, with the latest and the most modern weaponry," Rasool said was what "we needed, quite frankly, in this battle."
Army Col. Ryan Dillon, who usually conducts these operational briefings solo, in combat camouflage, from a small studio in Baghdad, traveled to Washington and was in full dress uniform as he presented three Iraqi generals to Pentagon reporters. He credited them for a "historic victory against a brutal and evil enemy" that had taken Iraq's second largest city.
This was not the same Iraqi Army that fled in the face of the Islamic State's sweep across the country in the summer of 2014, he said.
"They have proven with their battlefield successes that they know they're better," Dillon said, "that they are a better fighting force and they are better than the terrorist that they fight."
The three generals represented the Iraqi Security Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga militias, and the Iraqi interior ministry.
Dillon praised the "professionalism, dedication and competence" of the Iraqi forces who he said "have gone toe to toe with this terrorist group and have paved the way for ISIS's lasting defeat."
"Yes, it is a historical day that we managed to achieve our victory with your help, with the help of our friends for the coalition forces, and also the American friends," said Brig. Gen. Halgurd Hikmat, a spokesman for the Peshmerga fighters.
"I'm very proud about what we achieved," Hikmat said. "Especially if we compare the situation in 2014 and what we're doing now."
"Today, Iraqi troops are the pride of the nation," Rasool said. "Today, we have our city back as a result of our brothers, sons and daughters, the heroes of Iraq, and all those who stood by us, and I'd like to thank them as part of the international coalition who are fighting all those terrorist organizations."
"God willing, we are continuing our military operations to continue to liberate the remaining occupied lands of Iraq," Rasool said, adding "We want to get rid of those barbaric elements from our homeland."