Iraq prepares for Mosul battle

Prime minister says that the fight against al-Qaeda in the city will be "decisive".

     Thirty six people have died in Mosul after two separate bombings this week [AFP]

    "We have set up an operations room in Nineveh to complete the final battle with al-Qaeda along with guerrillas and members of the previous regime," al-Maliki said, referring to other armed groups that the government says remain loyal to Saddam Hussein, the former president.

    Extra police

    Three thousand extra police were being sent to the region to assist Mosul's understaffed force, Major General Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman from the interior ministry said.

    Iraqi soldiers from Baghdad and Anbar province are also expected to be dispatched to Mosul.
     
    The capital of Ninevah province has about 18,000 policemen but only about 3,000 of those operate in the city of nearly two million, police officials say.
     
    "Now we have a real army. The days when the militants could do anything in front of our armed forces are gone"


    Nuri al-Maliki,
    Iraqi prime minister

    A senior police officer in the city said that commanders had previously requested more troops and better equipment.
     
    "We have asked the prime minister to send us fresh units because we cannot defeat the terrorists with the weak units we have now in the city," Major General Riyad Jalal said.

    On Wednesday, at least 34 people were killed and 224 wounded after an apartment building in the Zanjili neighbourhood, reportedly used as bomb making factory, exploded.

    After a suicide attack which killed two police officers at the same site the following day, a curfew was imposed on the city.
     
    Al-Maliki's statement appeared to be aimed at demonstrating that Iraqi forces are capable of coping with a major security threat with US forces standing by in reserve.

    "Now we have a real army. The days when the militants could do anything in front of our armed forces are gone," he said.
     
    Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the US's second in command in Iraq said that it would play an oversight role and let the Iraqi forces take the lead in Mosul.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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