Iraq News

Iraqi army eyes Mosul as reinforcements arrive

By Khalid al-Taie

A military tanker raising a banner that reads 'Mosul, we are on our way' heads to an army base in Makhmour, south of Mosul. [Photo courtesy of Iraqi Defence Ministry Facebook page]

A military tanker raising a banner that reads 'Mosul, we are on our way' heads to an army base in Makhmour, south of Mosul. [Photo courtesy of Iraqi Defence Ministry Facebook page]

After liberating a string of towns and villages south of Mosul from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), Iraqi forces are bringing in reinforcements, freeing the main part of the army to focus on retaking Iraq's second biggest city.

A new batch of police consisting of three special emergency regiments have arrived at the military advance base in Makhmour district south of Mosul, said Brig. Gen. Firas Bashar Sabri, media officer of Ninawa operations command.

The force, which belongs to the Ninawa provincial police, has received what he describes as high level training in the last few months and is equipped with advanced weapons.

"The victories achieved by our forces in driving ISIL from many villages and areas in southern Mosul, most recently the liberation of al-Qayyara air base and the move to retake al-Qayyara district, which is only 60 kilometres from the centre of Mosul, has led to sending additional forces," he said.

The arriving force will undertake the task of securing the liberated areas, he said, in order to enable the rest of the Iraqi army to continue advancing.

"Our forces are on the offensive and the decision to bring in more supporting forces is up to the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces [Haider al-Abadi], who will determine the order of battle of the units that will take part in the coming liberation operations," he said.

Sabri said ISIL's morale is "degraded" and that the group is in a state of frustration "after the bitter defeats they have suffered".

"The terrorists' resistance is weakening and they rely primarily on car-bomb attacks led by suicide bombers and on planting explosives in houses and streets in order to hinder our advance," he said. "But our forces' determination is greater than the enemies' plans, and we shall defeat them."

Securing liberated areas

"The regiments that have arrived at the Makhmour army base are the initial nucleus of the local police forces in Ninawa province, which will undertake the mission of holding and protecting the liberated territory," Ninawa provincial council security committee member Hashem Barifkani told Diyaruna.

The force was deployed after the Ninawa provincial council requested that local police play a more important role in the eventual liberation of Mosul, he said.

"Holding territory is the next step after liberation and the more complex and important one, as commanders need to develop plans and new security and intelligence arrangements to protect liberated areas against enemy penetrations, bring back displaced residents, and ensure their well-being," he said.

This is a complex effort that requires close co-operation between local forces, the provincial council and the federal government, he added.

Barifkani also noted the need to "equip the local forces with sufficient advanced weapons in line with the scale of the responsibilities assigned to them".

"ISIL is a vicious terrorist organisation, and repelling its dangers requires high-quality, effective weaponry," he said.

Hope rises in Mosul

According to information Barifkani has received, ISIL in Mosul is "suffering from a severe decline in its number of fighters, as most of its combatants have either been killed, injured or fled for unknown locations".

"Their control over the city is weakening," he said.

There also is a general feeling of satisfaction among the people of Mosul, he said, that the end of ISIL's domination is drawing near.

The arrival of military reinforcements is a "positive step that will help expedite the province's liberation", according to Said Mamuzini, the Mosul media officer for the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The development also will revive hope among Mosul residents that the "nightmare of terrorism" will end soon, he said.

"ISIL's condition is going from bad to worse," Mamuzini said.

"Many of its leaders and elements have escaped from Mosul, and alongside its failures on the battlefronts, it is suffering from popular rejection and rebellion against the rules and oppressive measures imposed on the people," he added.

Many people have refused to pay protection money, for example, or adhere to ISIL's mandatory conscription, Mamuzini said.

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