LONDON -More than two years after the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State (ISIS), the battle to liberate Iraq’s second largest city appears imminent.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi said in September that he expected the military offensive in Mosul to begin in October, although in later pronouncements he said he would decide in “the last minute” when to give the go-ahead.
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the operation to liberate Mosul would begin “within weeks” and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “there will soon be the main attack”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the military offensive would begin October 19th.
Iraqi officials said they expected the liberation to be swift and uncomplicated.
“The capture of Mosul will be finished in record-breaking time,” spokesman for the Iraqi army, General Yahya Rasool, told the Financial Times.
“Mosul is supposed to be easier than these other cities outside Mosul, which we’ve been liberating, because these are the outskirts,” Abadi said. “They’re supposed to be more pro-Daesh than the city itself,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“We are planning for a fight for many months but we anticipate the fight for Mosul will be easier than probably Ramadi.”
The United States leads the anti- ISIS coalition that provided Iraq with air cover, trained its soldiers and sent 5,000 troops — mainly military advisers — to Iraq. US officials said Iraqi forces are ready for the Mosul offensive.