Iraq Deploying Thousands of Troops to Retake Mosul
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Iraqi army is deploying thousands of soldiers to a northern base in preparation for operations to retake the Daesh group's hub of Mosul, officials said Monday.
Daesh seized Mosul in June 2014 and has held Iraq's second city largely unopposed for over 18 months as the country's security forces battled the extremists 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 told AFP 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 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of Mosul.
The initial aim is to completely sever Daesh 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 Daesh' 2014 offensive, which overran large areas north and west of Baghdad.