Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al Obeidi said on Thursday that the army is preparing to attack DAESH in the northern city of Mosul to push the terrorist group out within the first half of 2016.
Mosul is the largest city under the control of DAESH, which captured it in 2014. The terrorist group has declared a self-proclaimed caliphate in large swathes of Syria and Iraq, naming the Syrian city of Raqqa as its capital.
"I can say the battle won't be delayed after the first half of this year, and its end by God's will shall also be swift,'' Obeidi said in an interview in Cairo.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday that the US-led coalition fighting DAESH needs to take back the cities of Mosul and Raqqa. The coalition will use "boots on the ground" as part of the strategy to take the cities back.
"We need to destroy them in those two places, and I'd like to get on with that as soon as possible," Carter said in a TV interview , speaking from Davos, Switzerland.
The Iraqi Army backed by the US-led coalition started an operation against DAESH and took the city of Ramadi in the province of Anbar in western Iraq in December.
After the operation of Ramadi Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said "We can determine when the battle starts, but its end depends on variables.''
He insisted that the year of 2016 will be the year of “final victory” against DAESH.
US-led coalition are conducting air strikes against DAESH in Syria and Iraq named Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) which formed in October 2014.
The coalition forces have also been working to train and rebuild the Iraqi security forces which gradually collapsed when DAESH captured Mosul.
The US-led anti-DAESH effort will increase the number of troops in Iraq and will train more Iraqi fighters ahead of a Mosul operation, a coalition spokesman said Wednesday.
“That's really the next step in generating the amount of combat power needed to liberate Mosul,” said Steve Warren.
“We know we will need more brigades to be trained, we'll need more troops trained in more specialties.” Said Warren, speaking via video conference from Baghdad, he added that although the number of new trainers had not yet been worked out, he would estimate it at hundreds.
Turkish Armed Forces is also training Iraqi Army units and Peshmerga forces against DAESH since late 2014 in the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern province of Mosul.
Iraqi central government relies on Shiite paramilitary groups and Peshmerga forces to drive the DAESH terrorists back, but their involvement in the Mosul campaign could inflame sectarian and ethnic tensions with the city's mainly Sunni population.
KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani says the Peshmerga will support coalition forces against DAESH to recapture Mosul but the Iraqi Army must take the lead.
Talabani without giving certain information of Peshmerga's role in the campaign said "We’re ready to do our part in any offensive to liberate Mosul but I think it’s unfair to expect us to do the lion’s share."