Erbil – The US Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State (ISIS), Brett McGurk, denied on Saturday that the long-planned Mosul operation had begun.
“Mosul operation will begin when announced by PM Abadi. Anything said before then is premature,” he cautioned. That being said, reports emerged throughout Saturday of preparations and deployments in advance of the looming battle.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on Saturday met with leaders of the Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) that will support the Iraqi security forces. While the meeting was ongoing, several reports confirmed that Iraq’s elite anti-terror units have reached the Mosul frontlines.
On Saturday night, the Kurdish Peshmerga and coalition jets conducted a heavy bombardment of ISIS positions. The preparatory fire aimed to soften Mosul’s defences and where possible annihilate them.
On Friday, The US-led coalition announced that their warplanes had stuck two ISIS tactical units and an ISIS media center; damaged two T-walls; suppressed another mortar system and destroyed an ISIS compound
In addition, the coalition’s air raids in Nineveh Governorate destroyed five rocket rails; four fighting positions; two supply caches; two vehicles; an anti-air artillery system; a mortar battery and a fortified headquarters.
According to US Brigadier General William Mullen and other military sources, the anti-terror units will do most of the heavy lifting in the battle for Mosul backed by the US-led coalition and the Iraqi Army.
The Kurdish Peshmerga will reportedly launch operations to clear ISIS out of the Nineveh plains and Tal Afar. This push will be critical, denying Mosul’s jihadist defenders both manoeuvrability and reinforcements.