Iraqi army drops leaflets In Mo­sul in prepa­ra­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Iraqi army dropped tens of thou­sands of leaflets over Mo­sul be­fore dawn yes­ter­day, warn­ing res­i­dents an of­fen­sive to re­cap­ture the city from Is­lamic State was in its fi­nal stages of prepa­ra­tion, ac­cord­ing to a mil­i­tary state­ment in Bagh­dad. The leaflets car­ried sev­eral mes­sages, one of them as­sur­ing the pop­u­la­tion that ad­vanc­ing army units and air strikes “will not tar­get civil­ians” and an­other telling them to avoid known lo­ca­tions of Is­lamic State mil­i­tants.

The as­sault on Mo­sul, the last city still un­der con­trol of the ul­tra-hard­line Is­lamic State in Iraq, could be­gin this month with the sup­port of a US-led coali­tion, ac­cord­ing to Iraqi gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials. Is­lamic State fight­ers are dug in and are ex­pected to fight hard. They have forced civil­ians to stay in harm’s way dur­ing pre­vi­ous bat­tles to de­fend ter­ri­tory. Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said yes­ter­day he hoped the United States and its al­lies would do their best to avoid civil­ian ca­su­al­ties in an at­tack on Mo­sul. Re­flect­ing the au­thor­i­ties’ con­cerns over a mass ex­o­dus that would com­pli­cate the of­fen­sive, the leaflets told res­i­dents “to stay at home and not to be­lieve ru­mours spread by Daesh” to cause panic, re­fer­ring to Is­lamic State by its Ara­bic acro­nym. With a pre-war pop­u­la­tion of around 2 mil­lion, Mo­sul is around 4-5 times the size of any other city re­cap­tured so far from the mil­i­tants, who swept through north­ern Iraq in 2014 and also hold a swathe of Syria.

The UN last week said it was brac­ing for the world’s big­gest and most com­plex hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­fort in the bat­tle for the city, which could make up to 1 mil­lion peo­ple home­less and see civil­ians used as hu­man shields or even gassed. “Keep calm and tell your chil­dren that it is only a game or thun­der be­fore the rain,” a leaflet said. “Women should not scream or shout, to pre­serve the chil­dren’s spirit.” “If you see an army unit, stay at least 25 me­ters away and avoid any sud­den move­ments,” an­other said.

Iraq ear­lier this month launched a ra­dio sta­tion to help Mo­sul res­i­dents stay safe dur­ing the of­fen­sive. The ra­dio is broad­cast­ing from Qay­yara, a town 60 kilo­me­ters south of Mo­sul, where the army is mass­ing forces ahead of the of­fen­sive. Qay­yara has also an air­field that will be used as a hub by the US-led coali­tion to sup­port the of­fen­sive in which Kur­dish Pesh­merga and Sunni tribal fight­ers are ex­pected to take part.

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi has not yet made it clear whether Ira­nian-backed Shi’ite para­mil­i­tary units will par­tic­i­pate in the of­fen­sive on the mainly Sunni city. Lo­cal Sunni politi­cians and re­gional Sunni-ma­jor­ity states in­clud­ing Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia have cau­tioned that let­ting Shi’ite mili­tias take part in as­sault could lead to sec­tar­ian blood­let­ting. — Reuters

BAGH­DAD: Iraqi po­lice­men in­spect their weapons at the Qay­yarah mil­i­tary base, about 60 kilo­me­tres (35 miles) south of Mo­sul. — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.