Pow­ers dis­cuss Mo­sul as Iraq forces inch to­wards out­skirts

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Iraqi forces were inch­ing to within strik­ing dis­tance of eastern Mo­sul yes­ter­day as de­fense chiefs from the USled coali­tion met in Paris to re­view the of­fen­sive on the ji­hadist bas­tion. Para­mil­i­tary forces were also mass­ing near the bat­tle­field to open a western front they say will aim to re­take the town of Tal Afar and cut off routes to neigh­bor­ing Syria for Is­lamic State fighters es­cap­ing Mo­sul. Forces from the elite counter-ter­ror­ism ser­vice (CTS) re­took ar­eas close to the eastern out­skirts of Mo­sul, IS’s last ma­jor ur­ban strong­hold in Iraq.

“On our front, we have ad­vanced to within five or six kilo­me­ters of Mo­sul,” their com­man­der, Gen­eral Ab­del­ghani AlAs­sadi said. “We must now co­or­di­nate with forces on other fronts to launch a co­or­di­nated” at­tack on Mo­sul, he said, speak­ing from the Chris­tian town of Bartalla. Kur­dish pesh­merga forces are making gains on the north­east­ern front but fed­eral forces ad­vanc­ing from the south have some way to go be­fore reach­ing the out­skirts of Mo­sul.

Mean­while, thou­sands of men from the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a para­mil­i­tary um­brella group dom­i­nated by Tehran-backed Shi­ite mili­tias, were pre­par­ing for a push to the west.

The Hashed lead­er­ship has or­dered “us to as­sume the mis­sion of lib­er­at­ing the Tal Afar dis­trict,” Jawwad Al-Tu­laibawi, spokesman for the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq mili­tia, said. The Hashed’s mis­sion will be to “cut off and pre­vent the es­cape of (IS) to­wards Syria and fully iso­late Mo­sul from Syria,” Tu­laibawi said. “We ex­pect that it will be a dif­fi­cult and fierce bat­tle.”

In­volve­ment of the Hashed in the Mo­sul op­er­a­tion has been a source of con­tention, es­pe­cially in even­tual fight­ing in­side the mainly Sunni city. Iraqi Kurds and Sunni Arab politi­cians have op­posed its par­tic­i­pa­tion, as has Turkey, which has a mil­i­tary pres­ence east of Mo­sul de­spite re­peated de­mands by Bagh­dad for the forces to be with­drawn. Ten­sions have been ris­ing be­tween Bagh­dad and Ankara, whose for­eign min­is­ter, Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, warned yes­ter­day that his coun­try would not hes­i­tate to launch a ground op­er­a­tion.

“If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our re­sources in­clud­ing a ground op­er­a­tion,” he told Turk­ish chan­nel Kanal 24. Re­la­tions be­tween the Hashed and the US-led coali­tion fight­ing IS are also tense, but the paramil­i­taries en­joy wide­spread sup­port among mem­bers of Iraq’s Shi­ite ma­jor­ity. Se­nior Iraqi and US mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have re­ported that IS leaders are al­ready at­tempt­ing to leave Mo­sul to reach the Syr­ian side of their “caliphate”. — AFP

PARIS: US De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash Carter (cen­ter) and French De­fense Min­is­ter JeanYves Le Drian greet Australian De­fense Min­is­ter Marise Payne (right) upon ar­rival for a meet­ing by dozen mem­bers of the US-led coali­tion fight­ing Is­lamic State in Iraq and Syria in Paris yes­ter­day. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.