First Published: 2016-02-08

Iraq prepares for Mosul offensive with massive deployment
Army is deploying thousands of soldiers to northern base in preparation for operations to retake Mosul from ISIS.
Middle East Online

Long road to Mosul

KURKUK (Iraq) - The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to retake the Islamic State group's hub of Mosul, officials said on Monday.

ISIS seized Mosul in June 2014 and except for air strikes has held Iraq's second city largely unopposed for over 18 months as the country's security forces battled the jihadists in other areas.

"Units from the Iraqi army have begun arriving to a military base near the Makhmur district to start launching initial military operations toward Mosul," a staff brigadier general said on condition of anonymity.

"There are three brigades located in that base now," and their number will eventually reach 4,500 soldiers, the officer said, adding that troops from the 15th and 16th division will take part in operations to retake Mosul.

Makhmur lies around 70 kilometres (45 miles) southeast of Mosul.

The initial aim is to completely sever ISIS supply lines between Mosul and areas farther south including Hawijah in Kirkuk province and areas near Baiji in Salaheddin, the officer said.

A Kurdish official said that most of the soldiers deployed to the area, which is located within territory controlled by Iraqi Kurdistan, are ethnic Kurds from the Iraqi army.

"These forces came with the approval of the presidency and government of the Kurdistan region of Iraq," said Halgurd Hekmat, a spokesman from the ministry responsible for the autonomous region's forces.

The base will be for both soldiers and aircraft, Hekmat said.

Multiple Iraqi divisions collapsed during the early days of ISIS's 2014 offensive, which overran large areas north and west of Baghdad.

With the help of US-led air strikes and training, Iraqi forces have since regained significant areas from ISIS, but Mosul will be the most difficult battle of the war against the jihadists.


Sarkozy says life ‘living hell’ since corruption allegations

Hezbollah leader says debt threatens Lebanon disaster

Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Rebels to evacuate Syria's Eastern Ghouta

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Two Hamas security force members killed in raid on bomb suspect

Turkey gives watchdog power to block internet broadcasts

EU leaders to condemn Turkey’s ‘illegal’ actions in Mediterranean

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin