Iraqi Shiite volunteers jump on an army truck outside a recruitment center in Baghdad to join the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). 2014. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Defense Minister, Khalid Al-Obeidi claimed on Friday that a timeframe for the long-anticipated battle for Mosul has been set for June, 2016, with the participation of various well-trained forces.
"The Iraqi defense ministry has laid security plans to launch the Mosul liberation operations from Daesh [ISIS] militants," Obeidi revealed to reporters during a visit to Cairo.
Obeidi said that tens of thousands of volunteer fighters will be taking part in the battle alongside government forces.
He added that similar plans had succeeded in Anbar and its provincial capital Ramadi.
“[The Iraqi ] army and security forces in coordination with the International coalition have managed to prevail against the Islamic State in the Anbar province in general, and Ramadi city in particular," he said.
The defense chief praised the Shiite militia for their part in the war against ISIS, hinting that they might be called upon for the Mosul offensive.
"Military forces of the Hashd al-Shaabi (Shiite militia) are successful examples of Iraqi forces against [Daesh] and they have been of great help to the Iraqi army and security forces to defend the sovereignty of the country in the fight against terrorism," that is why "the role of Hashd al-Shaabi should not be neglected."
Obeidi’s June timeline resonates with similar comments made by Sunni politician and former Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi who told Rudaw last week that he expected the Mosul offensive to start in the middle of this year.
Kurdish and American officials however, are less sure about any such plan.
"I do not think the Mosul offensive could happen this year. I don't think the Iraqi armed forces are ready and I don't think the [American-led] coalition is confident in the ability of everyone to get ready in time for an offensive this year," Kurdistan Region’s Deputy Prime Minister Qaubad Talabani told Reuters last week