Iraq: Battle to Liberate Mosul from ISIS Begins - Tunisia Live Iraq: Battle to Liberate Mosul from ISIS Begins - Tunisia Live
Iraq: Battle to Liberate Mosul from ISIS Begins

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Iraq: Battle to Liberate Mosul from ISIS Begins

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Peshmerga forces advance on territory east of Mosul. Image source: alalam

Kurdish and Iraqi government forces have launched an offensive to capture the Islamic State’s (Daesh) northern Iraqi stronghold of Mosul with air and ground support.

Daesh fighters, thought to number between 4,000 and 8,000, are embedded within their final major stronghold within Iraq. Surrounding the city, are reported to be 30,000 combatants made up Peshmerga military of Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq’s government forces of Shia militias and Sunni tribes, with additional air and ground support  from the U.S.-led coalition, Reuters reports.

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Iraqi Security Forces advance on Mosul/ Image source: The Guardian

In a televised statement Monday morning, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said “the victory bell has rung” in the mission to retake the historic city of Mosul and free more than 1 million residents from the “brutality and terrorism of ISIS,” according to CNN. If the Abadi government succeeds in retaking Mosul, its credibility would be strengthened by the recovery of the oil-rich territory in northern Iraq.
Both Sunni politicians and states including Turkey and Saudi Arabia have warned that including Shi’ite militias within the assault risked fueling the country’s existing sectarian divide, according to Reuters. Ethnic rivalries are already tense, as junior soldiers in the Iraqi army feared an attack by Sunni Arabs in Mosul, who they believe might take revenge for the transformation of Iraq into what Sunnis perceive to be a Shia state, the BBC reports.
Tensions between Iraq and Turkey have increased following the deployment of a small number of Turkish troops in territory north of Mosul. Baghdad claims that, by stationing the troops within Iraqi territory, Turkey is violating the country’s sovereignty and has demanded they leave, an order Ankara has ignored, reports AP. Similarly, hostilities between Turkey and Kurdish forces have become an established part of the regional landscape, further complicating any possible involvement of Turkey in the assault upon Mosul.

Fears over a humanitarian crisis are growing over concerns of a mass exodus that would further complicate the offensive on Mosul. The Iraqi army distributed tens of thousands of leaflets throughout the city on Sunday warning residents the offensive was imminent. The leaflets specified the airstrikes on the city “will not target civilians” and advised residents to avoid known locations of Daesh fighters. Last week, the United Nations stated it was preparing for the world’s most complex humanitarian effort to date, estimating that the assault upon Mosul could result in up to 1 million people being made homeless, with civilians potentially being used as human shields.

According to an October 2015 report by the Soufan Group, there are currently thought to be between 6,000 and 7,000 Tunisians engaged with Daesh in Iraq and Syria. There are currently no accurate statistics as to how many might be inside Mosul.



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