Ministry of Defense’s Falcon Intelligence Cell revealed, on Monday, that the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive and staying in Syria, while warned of the “political terrorism” after the liberation of Mosul. Head of the Falcon Intelligence Cell said in a press statement that the criminal al-Baghdadi is still alive and moving freely on the Syrian borders to Iraq. He also warned of the Islamic State danger on the country, calling it the phase of political terrorism after the liberation of Mosul, while pointed out that the terrorist group is planning to extend its strategy to some politicians, who are taking advantage of the invasion of the Northern provinces.
Troops are set to back the Iraqi forces in an upcoming offensive to dislodge ISIS in Anbar’s western town of Qaem and areas around the military base. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces currently control over one third of western Mosul and are pushing deeper into the city, encountering fierce counter-attacks from the ultra-hardline group that has slowed progress. The assault on Mosul, the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq, was launched by a 100,000-strong alliance of local forces on Oct. 17 that has become the biggest military operation in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. The offensive to recapture west Mosul started three weeks ago.
The United Nations Security Council was briefed behind closed doors on the situation in Mosul by U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien and U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo that Islamic State had used chemical weapons in Mosul, where the militants are fighting an offensive by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces to retake the city. The talks aim to reach a political solution to a conflict which erupted in March 2011 and has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced many millions.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with the head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph L. Votel, on Thursday to discuss the fight against the Islamic State. Votel expressed congratulations during the meeting with Abadi over victories Iraqi forces achieved over the militant group in the campaign to regain the west of Mosul and reiterated his country’s support to Iraq. The militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after U.S.-backed forces surrounding the city forced them from the east in the first phase of an offensive that concluded last month.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fought Islamic State fighters on Monday to clear the way to Mosul’s airport, on the second day of a ground offensive on the jihadists’ remaining stronghold in the western side of the city. ISIS militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after they were forced out of the eastern part of the city while Iraqi forces have been advancing so far in sparsely populated areas. The fighting is expected to get tougher as they near the city and the risk greater for civilians. to 400,000 civilians could be displaced by the offensive as residents of western Mosul suffer food and fuel shortages and markets are closed, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande told Reuters on Saturday.
Iraqi forces, having gained control of the eastern half of Mosul in January, are now ready to launch the next phase of the offensive to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State militants.
The commander Abdulghani Asadi said during a press conference on Sunday that logistic and military preparations have been finished in order to start the liberation.
“We are waiting for zero hour by commander in chief of Iraqi Armed Forces,” the counter-terrorism service’s commander added. “The control of western Mosul will be in a way which cannot be expected”.