Mosul – Iraqi forces, backed by airstrikes by the international coalition and Iraqi air force, opened a new front in the battle for the city of Mosul.
An officer in the Iraqi army, who chose to remain anonymous, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the new front has been opened west of the city.
The forces are seeking to liberate the July 17, al-Harmat, al-Mshayrfa and Hawi al-Kanisa neighborhoods from ISIS, he revealed.
They are also seeking to speed up the operation of liberating the embattled city.
In a related development, head of police Shaker Jawdat told Asharq Al-Awsat that his forces have made new advances in the area surrounding the Grand al-Nuri mosque in Mosul’s Old City.
He said that 30 terrorists were killed and 12 mobile positions were destroyed in the advance.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced that Iraqis should prepare for the declaration of victory in Mosul, while also warning of strife between Arabs and Kurds.
He said during a national unity festival that Iraq is edging closer towards a new phase “despite of the major and ongoing challenges.”
“Achieving peace and a dignified life for our citizens is among our main priorities. This nation belongs to all Iraqis regardless of their affiliations,” he added.
“The day of the liberation of Mosul is near and its residents should not surrender to rumors,” he stressed.
He added that the capabilities of ISIS have been destroyed and the terrorist group has left large quantities of weapons in its wake.
The German press agency (dpa) quoted Abadi as saying: “We do not like war, but it has been imposed on us by ISIS and we have been victorious against it.”
“War is not easy, but we have no choice but to be victorious in order to protect our citizens.”
Addressing Kurds, the Iraqi PM said: “They are first-class Iraqi citizens. There are campaigns aimed at creating strife between them and the Iraqi people.”
Iraq’s strength lies in the diversity of its people, whether they are Sunni, Shi’ite, Kurdish, or Christian, Abdadi continued.
“All sects and components of Iraqi society fought against ISIS, because Iraq belongs to everyone,” he declared.