VIDEO: Iraqi Army Preparing for Fierce Battle against ISIS in Mosul

Sun Oct 2, 2016 16:12:30

An unlikely array of forces is getting ready to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) terrorists’ stronghold.

Iraqi troops, Shia militiamen, Sunni Arab tribesmen, Kurdish fighters and US Special Forces are preparing for a battle that is likely to be decisive in the war against the extremists.

ISIS has held the country’s second-largest city since summer 2014 when it swept across much of northern, western and central Iraq.

But anti-ISIS forces have successfully recaptured other areas held by the militants, such as Ramadi, Fallujah and Sharqat.

General Yahya Rasool, official spokesperson for the joint operations, says the battles have been “very clean in terms of military standards. We are working on cutting all supply lines to Daesh (Islamic State terrorist group),” he adds.

If Mosul is retaken, it would be a nearly complete reversal of the terrorists’ 2014 sweep.

The group would be left with only a few pockets of territory in Iraq.

But victory doesn’t mean an end to the conflict.

In a post-Islamic State Iraq, the enmities and rivalries among the players in the anti-ISIS coalition could easily erupt.

The battle threatens to be long and grueling.

If ISIS fighters dig in against an assault, they have hundreds of thousands of residents in the city as potential human shields.

And as residents flee, they fuel the humanitarian crisis in Iraq’s Kurdish region around Mosul, where camps are already overcrowded with more than 1.6 million people displaced over the past two years.

Humanitarian groups are rushing to prepare for potentially one million more who could be displaced by a Mosul assault.

“We realized that everyone thinks this is the final battle and therefore the international community is looking closely at Iraq and will help, whether in military efforts or humanitarian efforts,” says Dr. Naseer Nouri, official spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

The US is sending 615 more troops to Iraq ahead of the campaign - there are already more than 4,500 American troops in the country.

Although some Western officials have pointed to this month (October) as the likely start of a Mosul offensive, it’s unclear whether Iraq will be ready by then.

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