Mo­sul bat­tle: Iraqi troops ‘a

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Iraqi forces are “ahead of sched­ule”, the Pen­tagon has said, as they be­gin the sec­ond day of the bat­tle to re­take Mo­sul from so­called Is­lamic State.

But spokesman Peter Cook warned that the cam­paign “could take some time” as it re­mained to be seen whether the ji­hadist group would “stand and fight”.

Fight­ing con­tin­ued overnight, with IS mil­i­tants at­tack­ing Iraqi army tanks.

The south­ern front­line is still some 40km from the city.

IS mil­i­tants over­ran Mo­sul in June 2014, be­fore tak­ing con­trol of much of north­ern and western Iraq.

Their leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi, chose a mosque in the city as the place to pro­claim the es­tab­lish­ment of a “caliphate”, so re­tak­ing the city would be “sym­bolic”, ac­cord­ing to Mr Cook.

A coali­tion of about 30,000 Iraqi se­cu­rity per­son­nel, Kur­dish fight­ers, Sunni Arab tribes­men, and Shia para­mil­i­tary forces be­gan their ad­vance on the ji­hadists’ last ma­jor ur­ban strong­hold in the coun­try on Mon­day.

The Kurds seized sev­eral vil­lages in the first few hours of the op­er­a­tion, and an­nounced on Mon­day evening they had achieved all their key ob­jec­tives, in­clud­ing re­cap­tur­ing 200 sq km and nine vil­lages in un­der 24 hours.

They also se­cured an ad­di­tional sig­nif­i­cant stretch of the road from the Kur­dish city of Ir­bil to Mo­sul.

Mr Cook told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton: “Early in­di­ca­tions are that Iraqi forces have met their ob­jec­tives so far, and that they are ahead of sched­ule for this first day.

“This is go­ing ac­cord­ing to the Iraqi plan - but again, it’s early, and the en­emy gets a vote here. We will see whether [IS] stands and fights.”

They re­cap­tured 10 vil­lages on

French army Rafale fighter jets tak­ing off from the deck of France's air­craft car­rier Charles De Gaulle, in the Mediter­ranean sea. Seven French Rafale jets, from the Air Force and the Navy, car­ried out airstrikes south of Mo­sul overnight Oct. 15-16 with SCALP mis­siles that de­stroyed a fac­tory mak­ing IEDs Pho­to­graph: AP

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