Iraqi forces have launched a campaign to retake Mosul, the self-declared capital of the ISIL Takfiri group, the prime minister said Monday.
“Today I declare the start of these victorious operations to free you from the violence and terrorism of Daesh,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised address, using an alternative name for the ISIL group.
Mosul fell to ISIL insurgents two years ago as they marched through Iraq and Syria, where the civil war left a power vacuum that they easily exploited.
Abadi vowed that only government forces will enter Mosul.
“The force leading liberation operations is the brave Iraqi army with the national police and they are the ones that will enter Mosul, not others,” Abadi said.
He did not divulge details of the latest movements on the ground.
“We have been battling ISIS for more than two years,” Iraqi PM said, adding: “We started fighting ISIS in the outskirts of Baghdad, and thank God we are now fighting them in the outskirts of Mosul, and God willing the decisive battle will be soon.”
The announcement came hours after Iraqi forces dropped leaflets over Mosul, telling residents not to panic and to seal their doors and windows.