Following months of preparation, the Allies’ operation to retake Mosul from the grip of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) was finally launched on the very early hours of last monday. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi released an official announcement to government-dependent television station Al Iraqiya immediately after the last troops of the international coalition had been deployed to the outskirts of the second largest city in Iraq.
Whilst the Kurdish Peshmerga forces are stationed to the north and east of Mosul, with the goal of obstructing possible escape routes for IS’ militants, the Iraqi and international ground troops will advance from all sides besides the northern, also helped by local tribal fighters on the western front. The coalition headquarters is just south of the city: it will provide intel on the conflict and very precise indications on which targets the US-led airstrikes should hit inside Mosul.
The commander of the Joint Task Force Operation “Inherent Resolve”, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commented on the prospects of the battle and the role of the international coalition in support to the Iraqi forces, in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense. Townsend affirmed that the operation to regain control of Mosul will likely continue for weeks and possibly longer. But it comes after more than two years of ISIL oppression in Mosul, “during which they committed horrible atrocities [and] brutalized the people” after declaring the city to be one of their twin capitals, the general said in the statement. The coalition can’t predict how long it will take for the ISF to retake the city, “but we know they will succeed — just as they did in Beiji, in Ramadi, in Fallujah and, more recently in Qayyarah and Sharqat.” The OIR coalition will provide “air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers,” Townsend said in the statement, adding that the supporting forces “will continue to use precision to accurately attack the enemy and to minimize any impact on innocent civilians.”
Townsend also addressed the very controvertial topic of the nationalities amongst the ground troops: “To be clear, the thousands of ground combat forces who will liberate Mosul are all Iraqis,” Townsend said in the statement”. Meanwhile, the start of the conflict has raised serious humanitarian concerns among many international organisations, such as the UN and UNICEF, and NGOs.