Published: Sat, May 06, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Iraqi Forces Begin New Offensive, Attacking IS From North of Mosul

Iraqi Forces Begin New Offensive, Attacking IS From North of Mosul

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi's Friday declaration that USA combat troops will not remain in the country after the Islamic State is defeated could spark a future showdown with the Trump administration.

Iraqi officials have since said the battle would be over by the end of May, though some military observers remain skeptical it will be completed before late summer.

Mosul, 400 km north of Iraqi capital Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their posts and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.

In line with the ground operation launched by Iraqi forces along the entire Mosul fronts, the War Media Cell said on Thursday that the Iraqi air force launched numerous airstrikes on several ISIS positions in al-Harmat, Telafar and the 17 Tammuz areas and destroyed four weapon and explosive factories, in addition to a cache of missiles and explosives.

The U.S. official emphasized that discussions were in early stages and that "nothing has been finalized".

Currently, the Pentagon has close to 7,000 USA troops in Iraq, many not publicly acknowledged because they are on temporary duty or under specific personnel rules.

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Separately, Captain Ali al-Bahadoli of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said government forces had lobbed a barrage of missiles at an area west of Mosul, killing scores of Daesh militants.

The government denies having any deals with any foreign country on keeping troops in Iraq post ISIL.

In February, Lieutenant-General Stephen Townsend - the top USA commander in the country Iraq - warned that the United States military presence could continue even after the defeat of IS.

Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from the Kataib Hezbollah militia - who are closely linked to Iran - said the army and paramilitaries were strong enough to defend Iraq themselves. The campaign has since grown to include forces on the ground, with Iraqi soldiers backed by the US -led coalition to retake territory from ISIS. And I know that the Iraqi security forces are confident of their ability to finish the enemy in place in Mosul very soon.

The talks over a longer-term US presence has greatly concerned Iran, which in turn is increasing support to some of Iraq's Shiite militia forces, said Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shiite militia group with close ties to Iran.

Observers have warned that, with other anti-IS forces also pressing a major offensive on their last major Syrian bastion of Raqa, the jihadists could increasingly revert to guerrilla tactics and bombings of civilian targets.

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