Iraq Launches Offensive to Retake Mosul From ISIS Occupiers

The Iraqi army, directed by U.S. advisers, launched an offensive Sunday aimed at wresting Mosul from the hands of ISIS and ending its brutal two-year occupation.

“The time has come for the greatest victory,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced late Sunday on state TV. “I announce the start of Liberating Mosul Operation, by the will of Iraqis, and after depending on Allah.”

Al-Abadi said that ISIS would be “punished” for its crimes and that the province’s cities and villages will be rebuilt.

“We will rebuild what those criminals have destroyed,” he said. “We will bring life back to Mosul and all other areas around Mosul.”

In a statement, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the offensive a “decisive moment in the campaign to deliver [ISIS] a lasting defeat,” and Brett McGurk, the State Department official coordinating the effort against group, said it would liberate Iraqis from “two years of darkness.

The Iraqi army, directed by U.S. advisers, launched an offensive Sunday aimed at wresting Mosul from the hands of ISIS and ending its brutal two-year occupation.

“The time has come for the greatest victory,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced late Sunday on state TV. “I announce the start of Liberating Mosul Operation, by the will of Iraqis, and after depending on Allah.”

Al-Abadi said that ISIS would be “punished” for its crimes and that the province’s cities and villages will be rebuilt.

“We will rebuild what those criminals have destroyed,” he said. “We will bring life back to Mosul and all other areas around Mosul.”

In a statement, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the offensive a “decisive moment in the campaign to deliver [ISIS] a lasting defeat,” and Brett McGurk, the State Department official coordinating the effort against group, said it would liberate Iraqis from “two years of darkness.”

Though the operation began Sunday, its plans had been known long before.

Earlier Sunday, Hadi Al-Ameri, commander of the Badr Shiite organization; Ahmed Al-Asadi, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, the militia coalition supporting the operation; and Gen. Shaker Jawdat, commander of the federal police, arrived at the military base in Qayyarah, a senior security official said.

Iraq’s air force dropped leaflets warning Mosul residents that the liberators are coming, and the Baghdad government directed broadcasts directly into the heart of the occupied city.