Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An official of the US Central Command said that the Iraqi army is preparing an offensive to take back Mosul from the hands of the Islamic State (IS) in April-May. An estimated 20-25 thousand Iraqi soldiers are in training, including police forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga troops, tribal forces and anti-terrorism groups.
second city was inhabited by over a million people before it was conquered by the
IS last June. It is estimated that it is controlled by a 2 thousand strong Islamist
The US official said the offensive must take place before the end of May and the onset of the summer heat. In any case, he added, if the troops were not ready and trained, the operations would be delayed.
Recapturing the city of Mosul
implies a house to house guerrilla war. The official did not rule out the participation of the US
in a ground war.
Several observers are amazed by the communication: it is quite strange to broadcast news and details of a military operation well in advance. One hypothesis is that the United States wants to show that they are engaged in the fight against the IS and that their training of Iraqi troops is bearing fruit. In recent weeks, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been stepping up pressure to recapture Mosul..
So far the Kurdish forces have been reluctant to fight for Mosul, preferring to defend the borders of the Kurdish region, for which they would like independence. Even the southern Shiite militias fear the battle against the Sunni IS militiamen and feel unwelcome in the Sunni majority region of Mosul.
The United States are training Iraqi soldiers in five areas. Many Iraqi soldiers, before the advance of the IS last June, have abandoned their weapons and uniforms, allowing the city to fall into the hands of militants.
Yesterday, the military leaders of 20 nations gathered in Saudi Arabia to discuss the ways to strengthen the Iraqi army against the IS.