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UN Envoy: Liberation of Mosul Imminent

UN Envoy: Liberation of Mosul ImminentUN Envoy: Liberation of Mosul Imminent

The liberation of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul “is imminent” and the days of the self-styled Islamic State terrorists “are numbered”, the UN envoy for Iraq said on Monday.

But Jan Kubis told the UN Security Council that despite progress, fighting remains “a tremendous challenge” because IS fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in “a last-gasp effort that reveals little more than the inherent inhuman barbarity of the terrorists”, ABC News reported.

Kubis said military operations in Iraq are shifting to the remaining areas and pockets where IS extremists are still present.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced that the next steps are to secure the Iraq-Syria border and to liberate west of Nineva and Anbar governorates, the UN envoy said.

“Although large-scale military operations against IS will hopefully conclude by the end of this year, the security environment will remain volatile and will be characterized by continued cowardly terrorist attacks by IS, targeting civilians in many parts of the country,” he said.

“Whenever given the opportunity, IS, Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups will likely seek to tap into and deepen sectarian, tribal or ethnic divides, including by cooperating with criminal gangs,” Kubis added.

To deal with these challenges, he said a long-term, comprehensive reform of the security sector “is imperative.”

Kubis said a dual focus must be maintained on the immediate challenges of defeating IS and on preparing for the liberation, stabilization and rehabilitation of Iraq.

Continuing substantial international support for Iraq “is indispensable in the forthcoming period” to facilitate the return home of tens of thousands of people who fled the fighting to liberated areas in conditions of security and law and order, he said.

In addition, he said, “the imminent defeat of IS provides an urgent impetus to address the concerns of minorities ... (who) continue to face existential challenges and need special attention” so they can return home.

Kubis expressed continuing concern at the delay in returning displaced residents to areas liberated long ago and at many hundreds of alleged disappearances that remain unresolved, saying these and other issues can undermine efforts toward national reconciliation and a political settlement in Iraq.

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