Erbil – At midnight on Sunday, the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga launched the operation to take Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS) extremists.
“Tonight, PM Abadi issued orders to initiate major operations to liberate Mosul after two years of darkness under ISIS terrorists,” US anti-ISIS envoy Brett McGurk said. “Godspeed to the heroic Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, and Ninewa volunteers. [The US] is proud to stand with you in this historic operation.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, in a meeting with analysts and journalists, reminded his audience that just two years ago the Iraqi security forces had been pushed back to the outskirts of Baghdad.
“But today we are on the outskirt of Mosul, and we will defeat Daesh and break their will and propaganda through real victories on the ground,” al-Abadi said, employing an Arabic acronym for ISIS.
The Iraqi PM said that history will record 2016 as the year that ISIS was decisively defeated in Iraq. Al-Abadi also told the assembled journalist, that the fight against ISIS will take place simultaneously on multiple fronts, including Kirkuk, Ramadi and Mosul.
While al-Abadi stressed inter-Iraqi unity in his remarks, he remained critical of Turkey’s presence. Sitting amongst his generals, he challenged Turkey to prove that the Iraq government had given Turkish forces permission to join the battle for Mosul.
Iraqi Army, Peshmerga, PMU to fight side by side
Preparations and deployments were widely reported in the run up to Sunday’s announcement. 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 had reached the Mosul frontlines. 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.
The Kurdish Peshmerga have reportedly massed 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.
Also on Saturday, Kurdish Peshmerga and coalition jets carried out a heavy bombardment of ISIS positions. The preparatory fire aimed to soften Mosul’s defences and where possible annihilate them.
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.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News