Iraq: The battle to retake Mosul has began

Rudaw.net  last night showed live the announcement by  that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi the starting of the Mosul offensive, in a televised address ,for today the 17th of October, 2016.

“The hour has come and the moment of great victory is near,” said  “I announce today the start of the operation to liberate the province of Nineveh.” 

Throughout the past year, Iraq’s government and its allies have prepared for the major offensive to drive ISIS from the northern city, after the humiliating capitulation that resulted in its loss in 2014. Mosul remains the biggest stronghold of ISIS in Iraq.

Turkey’s Erdoğan commented that Turkey will well take place in the offensive just after the announcement that the long-awaited operation to reclaim the city has begun according to the Independent.

It is “out of the question” for Turkish troops to stay out of the US-backed Iraqi army offensive to retake the northern city of Mosulfrom Isis, the Turkish president has said.

“We will be in the operation and we will be at the table,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated in a televised speech on Monday. “Our brothers are there and our relatives are there. It is out of the question that we are not involved.”

About 4,000 Kurdish pesh merga troops are involved in the operation to retake 10 villages, the opening phase of a battle that could take weeks or months and could involve nearly 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops, with American warplanes providing air support. Iraqi counterterrorism forces, which work closely with American Special Operations commandos in Iraq, are also expected to join the Kurdish forces in the coming days.

US Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, in Washington, said the start of the Mosul campaign was a “decisive moment” in the effort to defeat the Islamic State. (NYTimes).

The Guardian reports that also on the ground are US, British and French special forces, which have been advising the peshmerga and will play a prominent role in calling in airstrikes against Isis targets inside the city.

Skirmishes have flared outside Iraqi’s second largest city over the last few days with an airstrike on one of its main bridges on Sunday. It is not clear who was responsible for the strike on the al-Hurriya bridge but Amaq, the news agency associated with Isis, blamed US forces. It is thought that the destruction of the bridge could hinder Isis fighters trying to flee the city.

In the first phase, the troops who have been massing at bases around Mosul in recent weeks will encircle the city, seeking to cut it off and prevent Islamic State fighters from fleeing, particularly west into Syria. Later, the counterterrorism forces, which took the lead in liberating other Iraqi cities, like Ramadi and Falluja, from the Islamic State, will join regular army units in storming the city.

Later today, CNN reported that Iraq’s military said it has inflicted “heavy losses of life and equipment” on ISIS in a district southeast of Mosul, as Iraqi-led forces close in on the city in the long-awaited battle to recapture it from the terror group.

However, as Iraqi-led forces approach the city, Mosul’s remaining residents still remain in the clutches of an organization known for exploiting civilians as human shields. Airdropped leaflets declaring “it’s victory time” also told residents to tape up their windows, disconnect gas cylinders, and stay indoors.

Camps are being set up to accommodate the refugees, who will need transport and basic necessities once the Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga screen them as they leave the city.

  • Syria conflict: ISIS  ousted from symbolic town of Dabiq’ (BBC.com)

Meanwhile, yesterday ,Turkish-backed rebels have captured the symbolically important Syrian town of Dabiq from the Islamic State group.

Dabiq was under “full control” of Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.The small northern town holds great value for IS because of a prophecy of an apocalyptic battle, and features heavily in its propaganda.

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