U.S. President Barack Obama estimated on Thursday that perhaps 1 million civilians were still in Mosul, creating a challenge for Iraq and its Western backers trying to expel the group through force.
Binali Yildirim also said on Tuesday that local fighters trained by Turkish troops in the contentious northern Iraqi camp of Bashiqa were at the forefront of the Mosul operation, fighting alongside the Kurdish peshmerga forces. They sustained heavy losses in lives and hardware.
Turkey’s prime minister says the country’s air force was involved in airstrikes alongside the U.S. -backed coalition as part of the operation underway to free Mosul from the Islamic State group. It has united, organized and is coordinating the joint attack by Iraq’s army, hard-fighting Kurds, the latter who still distrust the Baghdad government and the allies’ air forces and special forces.
Tuesday night, both Iraqi and Kurdish commanders announced a pause in their advance and said they would meet Wednesday to decide how to proceed.
Three residents who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone described a ghost town where people only venture out to buy basic goods that are increasingly running low.
The first bricks of the military Tower of Babel predicted by debkafile in the background report below were set in place sooner than expected. He suggested that if Isis forces are not defeated by the Iraqis themselves in Mosul then the Iraqis – presumably the Iraqi Shia militia which are one of the spearheads of the government army – ‘will be obliged to move to eastern Syria in order to fight the terrorist group’.
The first forces to enter those cities were by and large pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias, especially the Bader Brigades and the Popular Mobilization Units, under Iran’s supreme Middle East commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
From Washington, this is VOA News.
Iraq’s government on Monday launched an operation to recapture the city from the radical Islamic State group.
“A lot of people are going to flee”, said Berkis Wille, the senior Iraq researcher for Human Rights Watch, which also is in contact with people inside the city.
Neither is another uninvited party, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Baghdad denies it granted permission and has ordered the Turks to withdraw – a call Ankara has ignored. Hopefully, it won’t happen in Mosul.
A Pentagon spokesman said more than 100 U.S. troops are embedded with Iraqi forces, including the peshmerga, as they advance toward Mosul.
On the eerily quiet streets of Mosul, fighters from the Islamic State group are killing suspected spies, blocking roads and planting bombs ahead of a showdown with Iraqi forces.
But ISIS leaders decided against waiting for the combined offensive.
When IS fighters moved into the territory around Mosul more than two years ago, the group attacked with convoys that traversed the open desert and held parades in the city center.
Those inside the city said they found out about the offensive from the radio and that airstrikes had hit closer targets in recent days.
The spat has raised concerns that the defeat of IS could lead to renewed conflict among the various fighting units currently allied against it.