The Iraqi Army on Monday managed to push the Islamic State group — also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) — on the back foot to quite an extent on the first day of its efforts to free Mosul. The Army, a day ago, had had warned locals of the offensive by dropping leaflets, a move that was also seen as an effort to demoralise Isis.
The military operation to liberate Mosul from Isis began in the early hours of Monday, local time, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared in an address on state television. The city has been under the control of the terrorist group since June 2014. Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces launched an offensive against Isis with the backing of the United States-led coalition forces as well as British and French forces.
Help from Turkey
Now, it has emerged that Turkey is also supporting the offensive. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech: "We will be in the operation and we will be at the table. Our brothers are there and our relatives are there. It is out of the question that we are not involved."
Turkish troops are supposedly in Iraq to train the Army there in the offensive against Isis in Mosul. However, the troops are now reportedly as far ahead as in Bashiqa. "No one should expect us to leave Bashiqa. We are there and have made all kinds of operations against Daesh," Erdogan said, using the Arabic abbreviation for Isis.
Locals kill 16 Isis members
Even as the Iraqi Army and the Pershmerga forces are charging ahead to retake Mosul, the locals are doing their part to liberate the region from the clutches of Isis. Local reports say residents of two villages to the south of Mosul killed 16 Isis members in an armed uprising that coincided with the offensive.
There have been other casualties among Isis members as well, but that number is not readily available. Meanwhile, the terrorist group has reportedly converted local mosques into barracks, a move that many religious scholars might see as contrary to the strict Sharia doctrine the terrorist group has been enforcing.
Isis chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly escaped death during the ongoing offensive, but only by a whisker as an airstrike missed him by minutes. Local reports quoted a source as saying: "Baghdadi escaped at the last moment from the airstrike on a meeting among commanders in Mosul." It was not clear whom the airstrike came from — the US-led coalition or the Iraqi forces.
The Kurdish Peshmerga forces, which are at the frontline of the offensive, reportedly suffered several casualties on Monday. Six of their soldiers were killed and 16 others were wounded, according to local reports.