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Female foreign fighters found in Mosul, victory celebrated in Baghdad

BAGHDAD – Iraqi counter-terrorism units detained twenty female Islamic State members from a tunnel discovered under a Mosul Old City neighbourhood, days after the recapture of the city.

A secret tunnel was discovered underneath the Quleiat neighbourhood in the Old City, an Iraqi counter-terrorism official told dpa on Saturday.

The neighbourhood has witnessed sporadic clashes since last week, despite the official announcement of the "complete liberation" of the city.

"The women had weapons and explosive belts meant for attacking Iraqi troops" counter-terrorism official Haidar al-Araji said.

The group of women, who were arrested on Thursday, included citizens of Germany (five), Russia (three), Turkey (three), Canada (two), Chechnya (one) and from Libya and Syria (six in total), according to al-Araji.

Meanwhile, Iraqi military forces paraded through Baghdad Saturday to celebrate the recapture of Iraq's second largest city from the terrorist militia.

The celebration, attended by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who is also commander-in-chief of the Iraqi army, comes less than a week after al-Abadi made a formal declaration of victory in Mosul, although fighting is still occurring in some parts.

An official week-long celebration was declared countrywide. Similar rallies have taken place in other cities.

Participating in Saturday's parade were Iraqi army troops, counter-terrorism forces, the federal police and the government-allied Shiite militia, the Popular Mobilization.

Mosul fell under the control of the Islamic State jihadist group in mid-2014, in a blitz that saw Islamic State forces overrun large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

Operations backed by the US-led coalition against Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria since late 2014 have pushed the militants out of much of the territory it once controlled.

The operation to retake Mosul kicked off in October, and coincided with a mission carried out by US-supported Kurdish fighting groups to dislodge the militia out of its stronghold in Syria's al-Raqqa.

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