Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has told the RIA Novosti news agency that the recapture of Mosul is an achievement of the Iraqi people, criticizing the U.S. for trying to “hijack” the victory.

“Yes, they supported us with aviation, but the main credit goes to the Iraqi soldiers, people’s militia, Iraqi air force,” al-Maliki said.

He further said that he “regrets and denies [Americans] claiming the victory [in Mosul] is their achievement.”

“In reality, this is the victory of the Iraqi army,” the Iraqi VP said, noting that the victory has left some 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers dead or injured.

The Iraqi military did everything it could not to destroy the city more than it was necessary in the circumstances of war, according to Al-Maliki.

Iraq launched an operation to liberate Mosul from ISIS terrorists in October 2016. The operation ended ISIS’s rule over the city which had begun in 2014.

“We could have surrounded the city, but then its residents would have suffered from famine,” the Iraqi vice president said.

He added that there were some 5,000 terrorists in Iraq, while between 2,000 and 3,000 of them have been killed.

Others are still hiding or have fled with the refugees, he remarked.