U.S. troops could remain in Iraq after ISIS defeated - govt officials
01:22, May 7, 2017
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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says United States military forces will not stay on in his conflict-stricken Arab country once government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, retake swathes of land that are still under the control of Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
Iraqi forces are struggling to retake the last remaining Mosul neighbourhoods ISIS holds in the city's western half, but even after a territorial victory, Iraqi and US-led coalition officials have warned of the potential for ISIS to carry our insurgent attacks in government held territory.
There are now more than 6,000 American combat troops deployed in Iraq, but that number has been steadily increasing over the last few months - though it's unclear by how much.
The recapture of the mosque would be a huge boost in morale, as this is the site where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had made a rare public appearance in July 2014, declaring the Islamic State's self-styled caliphate in Iraq and in neighboring Syria.
Iraqi forces opened a new front Thursday in their offensive to retake Mosul, advancing from the northwest in a bid to add momentum to the grueling seven-month-long battle for the city.
Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Erbil, said capturing the area could be key to securing all of Iraq's second-largest city.
Iraqi forces pushed further into Mosul from the north on the second day of a new push to speed up the almost seven-month attempt to dislodge Daesh, commanders said today.
Since the commencement of the Mosul offensive in mid-October 2016, military operations have displaced more than 473,000 people from Mosul to Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Diyala, Erbil, Ninewa, Qadisiyah, Salah ad Din, Sulaimaniyah, and Wasit governorates, according to U.S. Government (USG) partner the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
At that time, government forces made incremental gains in Mosul's Old City, approaching the Grand Mosque, where in a rare public appearance in July 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the group's self-styled caliphate after it had occupied nearly a third of Iraq.
Members of the Iraqi Federal Police clash with the ISIS fighters in western Mosul on April 29.
Separately, Captain Ali al-Bahadoli of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said government forces had lobbed a barrage of missiles at an area west of Mosul, killing scores of Daesh militants. "We scan, we take a look, we make sure", Browning said.
"The loss of Mosul is going to deeply damage ISIS prospects". The US-led global coalition is providing key air and ground support to the offensive on the Islamic State's de facto capital in Iraq. Gen. Joseph Martin, commander of ground forces for the USA -led coalition.
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