The bat­tle for Mo­sul

The Week Middle East - - News -

The Iraqi gov­ern­ment launched its lon­gawaited of­fen­sive to re­cap­ture Mo­sul, the coun­try’s se­cond city, from Is­lamic State on Mon­day. Iraqi troops moved on the city from the south, while their Kur­dish al­lies pushed for­ward from the east. Daesh has held Mo­sul since 2014, and once con­trolled nearly a third of Iraq, but has been steadily driven back by a US-or­ches­trated cam­paign. “The hour has come and the mo­ment of vic­tory is near,” said Iraq’s Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi. A mil­lion or more civil­ians are thought to be still in Mo­sul, along with be­tween 3,000 and 5,000 Daesh mil­i­tants. The city’s in­hab­i­tants, who are largely Sunni, fear ret­ri­bu­tion by Shia-dom­i­nated Iraqi forces. The ji­hadis are be­lieved to have built up an ex­ten­sive de­fen­sive net­work of tun­nels, trenches and im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices. “I don’t think Daesh will sur­ren­der,” said one com­man­der of the Kur­dish pesh­merga. “They al­ways fight to the last man, and they fight fiercely.”

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