Iraq won't attempt to retake Mosul in 2016, says Talabani

KRG deputy PM Talabani says Iraqi security forces not ready to recapture Mosul before 2017

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Iraqi Kurdistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani speaks during an interview with Reuters in Erbil, January 14, 2016.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said in an interview on Thursday that an operation to recapture Iraq’s northern city of Mosul from DAESH is unlikely to take place this year.

Despite recent gains against DAESH on the ground Talabani says that he doubts Iraq’s armed forces are ready to push DAESH out from the city before 2017.

"I don't think the Mosul offensive could happen this year," Talabani said.

"I don't think the Iraqi armed forces are ready and I don't think the [US-led] coalition is confident in the ability of everyone to get ready in time for an offensive this year," he added.

The US-led coalition is conducting air strikes against DAESH both in Syria and Iraq under the command of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) formed in October 2014.

The coalition's forces have also been working to train and rebuild the Iraqi security forces which collapsed when DAESH captured Mosul and large swathes of northern and western Iraq in June 2014.

The Turkish Armed Forces has also been training Iraqi Army units and Peshmerga forces against DAESH since late 2014 in the town of Bashiqa, located in Iraq’s northern Mosul Province.

The Iraqi central government relies on Shiite paramilitary groups and Peshmerga forces to repel DAESH, but their involvement in the Mosul campaign could inflame sectarian and ethnic tensions with the city's mainly Sunni Arab population.

KRG officials say the Peshmerga will support coalition forces against DAESH to recapture Mosul but the Iraqi Army must take the lead.

Talabani, without giving definite information regarding any Peshmerga role in a future 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."

Iraq declared the city of Ramadi liberated from the DAESH terrorist group in late December and raised the Iraqi national flag over a central government compound in the city in the first major victory by its forces since the fall of Mosul.

TRTWorld and agencies