Posted on October 19, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Islamic State, Mosul, Politics
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi. Photo: Reuters
BAGHDAD,— Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday it was the duty of the U.S.-led coalition to prevent Islamic State militants from escaping into nearby Syria from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
“It is the responsibility of the coalition to cut the road to Syria for Daesh [IS],” Iraqi state television quoted Abadi as saying, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused the coalition earlier on Tuesday of planning to allow safe passage into Syria for IS militants fleeing the battle for Mosul.
The coalition is providing air and ground support to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces that launched an offensive on Monday to retake Mosul, Islamic State’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq which it captured in 2014.
His comments came after forces affiliated with the President of the Syrian Regime, Bashar al-Assad, accused international Coalition forces of having a plan to allow IS militants to escape from Iraq to Syria.
A statement from the Syrian General Command of the Army and the Armed Force on Tuesday read that the US and its allied countries, above all Saudi Arabia, are carrying out a “malicious scheme” to provide “safe routes for the groupings of IS terrorists who are reeling under the Iraqi army’s strikes in Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city – to cross the border into the Syrian territory.”
Iraqi PM Abadi also announced on Tuesday the Iraqi army has opened a safe route for residents of Mosul to leave the city as the operation to liberate Mosul is underway.
Kurdish and Iraqi forces launched mass operation on Monday to retake the city from the Islamic State group which seized it more than two years ago.
A total of 20 villages were taken from the militants east, south and southeast of Mosul by early Tuesday, according to statements from the two forces, fighting alongside one another for the first time.
With around 1.5 million people still living in Mosul, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said it was preparing gas masks in case of chemical attacks by the jihadists, who had used such weapons previously against Iraqi Kurdish forces.
Tens of thousands of civilians could be forcibly expelled, trapped between fighting lines or used as human shields, said the IOM, one of many aid organizations to sound the alarm.