Iraq Launches Mosul Offensive To Drive Out Islamic State | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

Latest News

Iraq Launches Mosul Offensive To Drive Out Islamic State

Peshmerga forces with western forces advance in the east of Mosul to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
Posted: Oct 17, 2016 at 10:58 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Iraqi government forces, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, the militants’ last major stronghold in the country.

Helicopters released flares overhead and explosions could be heard on the city’s eastern front, where Kurdish fighters moved forward to take outlying villages, a Reuters correspondent said.

The United States predicted Islamic State would suffer “a lasting defeat” as Iraqi forces mounted their biggest operation since the U.S. withdrew its own troops in 2011.

Some 30,000 Iraqi soliders, Kurdish Peshmerga militia and Sunni tribal fighters were expected to take part in the offensive to drive an estimated 4,000 to 8,000 Islamic State militants from Mosul, a city of 1.5 million people.

“I announce today the start of the heroic operations to free you from the terror and the oppression of Daesh,” Prime Minister Haider Abadi said in a speech on state TV, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

“We will meet soon on the ground of Mosul to celebrate liberation and your salvation,” he said, surrounded by the armed forces’ top commanders.

Qatar-based al-Jazeera television aired video of what it said was a bombardment of Mosul that started after Abadi’s speech, showing rockets and bursts of tracer bullets across the night sky and loud sounds of gunfire.

“This operation to regain control of Iraq’s second-largest city will likely continue for weeks, possibly longer,” said the commander of the coalition, U.S. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, in a statement.

The Mosul offensive is one of the biggest military operations in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

“This is a decisive moment in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat,” U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.

“We are confident our Iraqi partners will prevail against our common enemy and free Mosul and the rest of Iraq from ISIL’s hatred and brutality.”

In 2014, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed from Mosul’s Grand Mosque a “caliphate” in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. (Reuters)