“The whole world is coming HERE TO fiGHT”
IRAQ - Thousands of troops are massing outside Isis-held Mosul in preparation for a battle that could spell the end of the terror group in Iraq. The fight to reclaim the city is expected to begin next week in what will be the biggest Iraqi military operation since the US-led invasion in 2003. A successful conquest would destroy ISIS’s last bastion of power in the country, and represent a serious blow to its legitimacy. Some 30,000 Iraqi troops are expected to take part in the battle, with support from US special forces and western coalition warplanes. The Iraqi army recaptured the town of Qayyarah in August, and is advancing 25 miles to Mosul in preparation for the new offensive. “All the troops are ready, now they are just waiting for the order from the prime minister,” said Major General Najim al-Jobori, one of the top Iraqi commanders overseeing the Mosul operation. “The head of the snake is Mosul,” he said. “I think ISIS knows this is the end of ISIS in Iraq.” Situated on the west bank of the Tigris River, 250 miles from Baghdad, Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city. It used to be a bustling city of two and a half million people, and was famed for its university, one of the largest education centres in the Middle East. Since Mosul’s capture by ISIS in June 2014, it has been the scene of increasing brutal atrocities as the terror group struggles to contain discontent among 600,000 remaining residents. In August, nine young men were tied to iron poles and cut in half with chainsaws after they were accused of belonging to a ‘resistance faction’. “ISIS is panicked,” one resident told The Telegraph. ‘Since they lost Qayyarah, they have begun to tighten their security; carrying out mass arrests and raiding houses in search for weapons and illegal phones.’ ISIS commanders realise the symbolic importance of maintaining its territory in Iraq. Mosul is by far the biggest city held by the militants - around four to five times the size of any other urban area recaptured so far from the fighters Iraq was where the group’s founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, first announced the creation of a ‘caliphate’ in April 2013. The estimated 60,000 jihadis in the city have dug in for what is expected to be a complex and bloody battle. According to The Telegraph, the jihadis have rigged a chemical plant with explosives with the intention of using the civilian population as human shields.