Iraq military ready to retake Mosul from Islamic State

  • 16/10/2016
Peshmerga forces stand guard at the Basika front (Getty)
Peshmerga forces stand guard at the Basika front (Getty)

Iraq has announced its military is ready to close in on Mosul, and is just waiting for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's order to proceed.

Iraqi state television said the offensive strategy has been submitted for the Prime Minister's final approval and that the battle is on the verge of breaking out.

"Firstly, in logistics, the preparations for taking back Mosul are complete," says said Wathiq Al-Hashemi, an Iraqi security expert.

"Our combat troops have received high-levels of training, and this includes the Iraqi Security Forces, the Federal Police, the spearhead of anti-terrorism troops and the militia groups, gathered by the Prime Minister, and named 'people's mobilization', and has 15,000 troops consisting of residents in and around Mosul.

"We will also cooperate with other countries to conduct efficient air strikes before, during and after the combat starts."

Evacuation plans have been made and a broadcasting station set up in south Mosul in order to help civilians evacuate. In addition, asylum centres have been put into place in the nearby Irbil and Salah-ad-Din Provinces to prepare for a large influx of people from Mosul.

"The largest asylum centre is in the east of Nineveh province. We have reserved a section for Mosul residents. It's safe and can take in civilians escaping from war," said Sajid Mohammed, an Iraqi parliament member.

However, the future battle is still faced with uncertainty as external factors are influencing decisions. For example, a row between Turkey and Iraq could derail the offensive. The presence of Turkish troops fighting against Kurdish militia in northern Iraq has been called by Iraqi Prime Minister as an "occupying force".

Now, although the case has been brought to the UN Security Council, it remains unsettled.

"The presence of Turkish troops is a major obstacle," says Mr Al-Hashemi.

"The Iraqi government hopes that they will leave Iraq before the battle and that the UN Security Council can issue a resolution, but this seems difficult as the five permanent members are divided, especially Russia and the US."

Mosul has been occupied since June 10, 2014, by Islamic State (IS). With a population once thought to reach nearly 2 million people, it is the largest city IS holds, and the battle for it will be one of the largest ever against the armed group.

Recapturing the city would be a major blow for IS' prestige and influence in Iraq, as well as a major financial setback.

The battle is also expected to create another humanitarian crisis in Iraq. The United Nations is anticipating as many as 1.5 million residents could be affected by the battle and will likely attempt to flee.

Newshub / APTN.