URGENT: Iraq launches operation to liberate Mosul: US official

5 March 2016 12:09

The Iraqi army launches an operation to liberate Mosul which has long served as the main seat of Daesh in the country, a US official says.

Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the US-led coalition, announced the launch of the operation on Saturday, the al-Forat television reported.

The offensive started by cutting the main road connecting Mosul to the Syrian city of Raqqah where Daesh is based, McGurk said, describing the operation as complicated.

The participation of US troops in the ground offensive will be possible only upon the request of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, he added.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by violence ever since Daesh mounted an offensive in the country in June 2014.

Mosul fell into the Daesh control early in the earliest days of the invasion. The Iraqi army has been fighting to liberate Daesh-held regions with the help of volunteer forces.

They have managed to retake some key towns and villages, including Tikrit and Baiji in Salahuddin Province and the city of Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar.

More Iraqi army advances against Daesh

The spokesman for Fallujah volunteer forces said the Iraqi security troops along with volunteers and tribesmen have thwarted Daesh attacks in two areas in southern Fallujah, killing dozens of terrorists.

The operation also left three volunteer fighters dead and 17 others injured, he added.

Meanwhile, the commander of the Anbar operation reported the killing of 17 Daesh militants in northeastern Ramadi.

The Iraqi forces deactivated 12 booby traps and set off two bombs planted in houses, he went on to say.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for volunteer forces in northern Iraq announced that the troops have fired mortars at Daesh positions in a village in southern Kirkuk Province, leaving a number of terrorists dead and injured.

Furthermore, a blast took place near a market in southern Baghdad, killing an Iraqi citizen and wounding seven others.

In a similar incident, a booby trap targeted an army patrol vehicle in southeastern Baghdad, leaving four soldiers injured.

The governor of Salahuddin Province, Raed al-Jabouri, said some 150 families have returned to the village of Salam in the city of Baiji. Salam, along with four other villages, was recently liberated from Daesh.