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Iraq Launches Operation to Liberate Right Side of Mosul | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Smoke rises after a rocket landed in the middle of the Iraqi rapid response forces’ position during a battle against Islamic State militants in the south of Mosul, Iraq February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Baghdad – Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of an offensive in the northern city, asking the armed forces to “respect human rights” during the battle and to take care of those displaced by the fighting.

Following his return from Munich Security Conference (MSC), Abadi announced the operation of ‘Nineveh, Here We Come’ to liberate the right side of the city.

“We announce the start of a new chapter of Mosul operations to liberate the right side of Nineveh as we did with the other part,” Abadi said.

“I declare to our brave forces to proceed with courage to liberate the other side of Mosul and to liberate its peoples from ISIS oppression forever,” he added.

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces on Sunday launched a ground offensive to dislodge ISIS militants from the western part of the city of Mosul, almost a month after they began the operations to liberate the left side of the city on January 24, 2017.

During the first phase, U.S.-backed forces surrounding the city forced militants from the east. The militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians.

Prior to initiating the offensive, Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets on the western side of Mosul warning residents that the battle to remove ISIS is imminent as troops began moving in their direction, the Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

The leaflets published on Defense Ministry social media said the troops had begun advancing toward western Mosul.

“Your armed forces are advancing in the direction of the right side, relying on God,” read one of the leaflets, referring to the western side of the northern Iraqi city.

“Get ready to welcome the sons of your armed forces and to cooperate with them, as your brothers on the left side have done, in order to reduce losses and speed up the conclusion” of the battle, added the leaflet.

Other leaflets warned ISIS members to “lay down their weapons and surrender.”

Police Brigadier Najem Jabbouri told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that this operation is expected to be easier than the last since ISIS has lost its ability to fight as strongly as before, in addition to the fact that coalition and army air forces are continuously bombing them.

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the U.S.-led coalition forces, said in a statement on Sunday: “Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world.”

Jabouri said that there is no timeline for the operations, adding that the important thing is to keep civilians safe.

“This doesn’t mean we are not setting an end date for the offensive. We are looking forward to liberate all of Mosul and Nineveh as soon as possible,” he added.

Jabbouri explained that they will face the same challenges they did in previous operations and he believes that some ISIS militants will fight, while others won’t.

He confirmed that the coalition had trained 5000 Iraqi policemen to maintain the liberated areas and support the forces. He said that 3000 policemen have finished their training and are ready to maintain the liberated areas.

Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement that elite Rapid Response units captured the villages of Athbah and al-Lazzagah, two villages south of Mosul airport.

Two terrorists attack Zouhour and Nabi Younis neighborhoods with explosive belts and eye witnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat that the first attack was on a bakery while the second attack an army site.

The attack on the army resulted in the death of four officers and injury of nine others.

War Media cell announced that the ninth armored division of the army liberated several cities on the right coast of the city.

Counter Terrorism doesn’t take part in the liberation and it is expected to infiltrate from the west side within the upcoming days.

Popular Mobilization Forces are still besieging ISIS militants in Tal Afar and managed to cut any reinforcements from reaching them inside the city.

AFP reported that Iraqi Forces’ primary goal is to advance towards the army and the military base near it.