BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Shi’ite forces aim to cut the western supply route out of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul on Thursday, the leader of the largest militia told Iraqi television.
“Today, God willing, is the completion of the first stage of the Hashid (Popular Mobilisation) operations – that is cutting the supply route of the enemy between Tal Afar and the Muhalabiya district, reaching to Mosul,” Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organisation said.
Tal Afar lies about 55 km (35 miles) west of Mosul, on the way to Islamic State-controlled regions of neighboring Syria. Cutting off the western side of the city will leave Islamic State enclosed on four axes.
The army, security forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces have been advancing from the south, east and north of Mosul since launching an offensive to recapture the city on Oct. 17 .
(Reporting by Saif Hameed; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi rallies Mosul fighters in new message
The leader of the Islamic State group has urged his followers in Mosul to keep up the fight against Iraqi forces and “make their blood flow as rivers”.
The message purporting to be from Abu Bakr al Baghdadi came in a 30-minute audio recording, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a US organisation that monitors militant activity online.
The authenticity of the recording could not be verified.
In the message, al Baghdadi expresses confidence in victory and urges his fighters to be resilient and steadfast.
He also calls for attacks in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
“This raging battle and total war, and the great jihad that the state of Islam is fighting today only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory,” he said.
“Turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, wreak havoc in their land and make their blood flow as rivers,” he told his fighters.
In a previous recording released in December last year, he reassured his followers that airstrikes by the US and others in Syria had not weakened the group.
The latest recording is his first public message to supporters since US-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched the battle to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and last major IS stronghold in the country.
The battle, which started on 17 October, is shaping up as the largest in Iraq since the US-led invasion of 2003.
The city of more than one million people and its surrounding territory fell to IS fighters during a surprise attack in June 2014.
IS has put up fierce resistance, sending suicide trucks against advancing troops and leaving booby traps and explosives on the road as they retreat.
The UN and others have also expressed fears the group is using civilians as human shields.
Iraqi forces are moving inot Mosul and have captured the district of Gogjali on the eastern side of the city.
The IS leader also told his fighters to “unleash the fire of their anger” on Turkish troops fighting them in Syria, and to take the battle into Turkey.
“Turkey today entered your range of action and the aim of your jihad… invade it and turn its safety into fear,” he said.
With Mosul Under Siege, ISIS Leader Breaks Silence to Issue a Rallying Cry
After a nearly yearlong silence, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State, released a blistering audio recording imploring his forces to remain firm in the face of the American-backed Iraqi offensive in Mosul and excoriating those who might consider fleeing.
“Know that the value of staying on your land with honor is a thousand times better than the price of retreating with shame,” he said, adding: “This war is yours. Turn the dark night of the infidels into day, destroy their homes and make rivers of their blood.”
Tags: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, audio recording, Badr Organisation, Daesh, Hadi al-Amiri, human shields, Iraq, Iraqi forces, Iraqi offensive in Mosul, ISIL, ISIS, Islamic state, Mosul, Muhalabiya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tal Afar, Turkey