01:24 GMT +312 December 2019
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    US-led coalition instructors monitor as they train Iraqi soldiers from the army's 72nd infantry brigade while participating in a joint live ammunition exercise at Besmaya military base in south of Baghdad, Iraq, January 27, 2016.

    Iraqi Army Deploys Thousands of Troops to Liberate Mosul From Daesh

    © REUTERS / Thaier Al-Sudani
    Middle East
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    The Iraqi army is sending thousands of soldiers to a northern base for operational training to retake Daesh’s hub city of Mosul, officials said on Monday.

    Daesh captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city in June 2014 and except for airstrikes it has held the city largely unopposed for over 18 months as the country's security forces fought the militants in other areas.

    “Units from the Iraqi army have begun arriving to a military base near the Makhmur district to start launching initial military operations toward Mosul,” a staff brigadier general told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Makhmur is situated around 70 kilometers southeast of Mosul.

    “There are three brigades located in that base now,” and their number will eventually reach 4,500 soldiers, said the officer, who is part of the security command aimed with retaking Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital.

    The battle for Mosul is predicted to be one the most difficult battles of Iraq's war against Daesh due to its size, the presence of large numbers of civilians in the city, and the long period the militants have had to prepare defenses.

    The primary aim is to completely sever Daesh’s supply lines between Mosul and areas farther south including Hawijah in Kirkuk province and areas near Baiji in Salaheddin, the army officer said.

    Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, the commander of the US-led operation against Daesh has said that Iraqi generals do not think they will be able to recapture Mosul until the end of 2016 or early 2017 at the earliest.

    In January, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled Obaidi said the battle for Mosul would take place in 2016 and would become the key operation in fight against Daesh.

    “A joint center, which includes Iraqi army officers as well as representatives of the US-led international coalition, was opened in Erbil in the [Iraqi] Kurdistan region. Its purpose will be coordination of counter terrorism fight and coordination in Nineveh after the start of the operation there,” Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul said.

    According to Rasul, another command center for the Nineveh liberation was opened near the town of Makhmur in Erbil province.


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