Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. AP photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed on Sunday that the battle to push the Islamic State (ISIS, Daesh) out of their stronghold of Mosul will commence on October 19.
“It is said that the battle for Mosul against Daesh will kick off on October 19 and that we all have to be prepared for this event,” Erdogan said in a meeting with Turkish community figures based in the United States.
Halgurd Hikmat, media officer for the Peshmerga ministry, told Rudaw English that he could not confirm publicly the date for the launch of the Mosul offensive for security reasons.
He said that the timing for commencing the military operation has been discussed in President Masoud Barzani’s meetings with Iraqi and American officials but will not be made public, even if a firm date has been agreed upon.
The Turkish president, in the United States to attend meetings of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, reportedly hailed an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil concerning Mosul liberation operations, describing it as crucial to reaching the goal of defeating ISIS in Nineveh Province and finally routing the terrorist group from Iraq.
“The agreement which is signed between the Peshmerga and Arabs for the offensive is very important,” Erdogan said in the meeting.
Erbil, Baghdad, and Washington reached an accord concerning cooperation between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army in the battle for Mosul during a tripartite meeting hosted by the Kurdish president on Monday.
The Iraqi army has begun military offensives against the remaining ISIS positions in areas around Mosul and Kirkuk to weaken the group and facilitate the Mosul offensive.
Last week Shargat town, considered the key town through which the Iraqi army could head to Mosul, was liberated.
Though Baghdad has repeatedly demanded Turkey leave northern Iraq, where its army is training Sunni and Peshmerga forces, Erdogan claimed, “Mosul inhabitants including Arabs and other groups are supporting us.”
Turkish armed forces are in Bashiqa, northern Iraq, providing training for Peshmerga and Iraqi Sunni forces.
Last December, Turkey boosted its troop numbers at the camp sparking a diplomatic confrontation with Baghdad who asserted that the Turkish troops were in the country without Baghdad’s permission or knowledge. Turkey maintained that the troops were necessary to protect their training mission at the camp.
However, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the presence of Turkish forces in Iraq “hinders our efforts to liberate Mosul” from ISIS and called on the international community to demand Turkey withdraw its forces in a speech to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.
ISIS seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June 2014 when the terrorist group swept into a third of Iraq, and Iraqi army forces in the city melted away in the face of the onslaught.