The government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces announced on Sunday the commencement of operations to liberate West Mosul from Islamic State’s (ISIS) militants.
“The battle for the complete liberation of Mosul cannot come soon enough for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens who for more than two years have suffered under ISIS oppression in West Mosul, during which ISIS committed horrible atrocities and terrorized the people of Mosul,” the US-led coalition against ISIS said.
“[Iraqi] PM Abadi this morning announced commencement of major operations to liberate west Mosul from ISIS terrorists,” Brett McGurk, the anti-ISIS envoy said.
“ISIS’s cruelty, brutality and reach show they are not just a threat in Iraq and Syria, but to the region and the entire world,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” said Townsend. “They have taken the fight to the enemy and sacrificed their blood for the people of Iraq and the rest of the world.”
“While ISIS indiscriminately targets civilians the Iraqi Security Forces continue to do everything in their power to protect the citizens of Mosul, of all sects and religions,” said Townsend. “They have shown all of Iraq how to be a unified nation.”
“The entire Coalition salutes and wishes God’s blessings on the brave Iraqi soldiers, police and militias who today are fighting to liberate their country and make the region and the world a safer place,” said Townsend.
The US-led coalition expects the battle to be challenging for West Mosul.
“It’s going to be challenging because what remains is a city about half the size of Philadelphia. And so about 100,000 buildings, with an enemy that’s had over two-and-a-half years to prepare this defense,” Major General Joseph Martin, commanding general of the US-led coalition forces in Iraq previously said.
“They’ll be much more desperate than they were on the east side. Their confidence will be down. But I think that they’ll continue to demonstrate that there’s no limitation to their despicability as they use the population as human shields.”
To date, the US-led Coalition has conducted more than 10,000 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and trained and equipped more than 70,000 Iraqi forces to support Iraqi operations.
After three months of intense fighting, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the liberation of Eastern Mosul Jan. 24.
Iraqi forces have been fighting ISIS in Mosul since 17 October, 2016, when they launched a major offensive supported by the US-led coalition.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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