US-led coali­tion hud­dles as forces inch to­wards Mo­sul

The Myanmar Times - - World -

IRAQI forces were inch­ing to within strik­ing dis­tance of eastern Mo­sul as coali­tion de­fence chiefs gath­ered in Paris agreed to also take on the ji­hadists’ Syr­ian bas­tion of Raqa.

With the Mo­sul bat­tle in its se­cond week, French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande called for the US-led coali­tion against the Is­lamic State group to pre­pare for the af­ter­math and the next stages of the cam­paign against the ji­hadists.

The United Na­tions said it had re­ceived re­ports of a new se­ries of atroc­i­ties by the ji­hadists as troops close in on its last ma­jor ur­ban strong­hold in Iraq.

As Iraqi forces ad­vance, the United Na­tions said it has re­ceived re­ports of dozens of ex­e­cu­tion-type killings by IS in Nin­eveh prov­ince, in­clud­ing 50 po­lice of­fi­cers who had been held hostage by the ji­hadists.

In Paris, French De­fence Min­is­ter Jean-Yves Le Drian met coali­tion coun­ter­parts, in­clud­ing Pen­tagon chief Ash­ton Carter, to re­view the war on the IS after more than two years of air strikes, train­ing and on-the-ground mil­i­tary ad­vis­ers.

Be­sides co­or­di­nat­ing their sup­port for the forces clos­ing in on Mo­sul, min­is­ters also dis­cussed the Syria side of the cam­paign and said they were “lay­ing the ground­work” for the iso­la­tion of Raqa.

France is keen to tackle Raqa, where the 3000 to 4000 IS fight­ers in­clude a con­tin­gent of around 300 French na­tion­als whose po­ten­tial re­turn to France when the “caliphate” dis­in­te­grates is con­sid­ered a ma­jor na­tional threat.

Seek­ing to draw at­ten­tion away from the Mo­sul cam­paign, the IS has staged at­tacks in the north­ern city of Kirkuk and the west­ern town of Rutba in re­cent days.

Se­nior Iraqi and US mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have re­ported that IS lead­ers are al­ready try­ing to leave Mo­sul to reach the Syr­ian side of their “caliphate”.

But with its claim to run a “caliphate” los­ing cred­i­bil­ity with ev­ery new loss of ter­ri­tory, the IS has mounted a fierce and well-or­gan­ised re­sis­tance in the fight for Mo­sul. –

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