Iraq Prepares Mosul Offensive

Iraq Prepares Mosul OffensiveIraq Prepares Mosul Offensive

Iraq’s military said on Friday it was mobilizing troops to prepare for an offensive the government has pledged to launch this year to retake the northern city of Mosul from the self-styled Islamic State terrorists. Hundreds of forces from the army’s 15th division reached Makhmour base, 70 km south of Mosul, and more forces, including Sunni Muslim tribal fighters, were expected to arrive in the coming days, said Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the joint operations command, Reuters reported. Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi told Reuters last month that Iraq would launch the Mosul operation in the first half of the year and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said 2016 would see the “final victory” against the militants. Some US officials have endorsed that assessment, but a top US intelligence officer told Congress this week any operation to retake Mosul would be long and complex and unlikely to finish this year. With more than a million people still living there, Mosul is the largest city controlled by IS, which declared a ‘caliphate’ in swathes of territory it seized in Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014.