Iraq's ambassador to Ankara said yesterday that he fully believed the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), bolstered by US airpower and an array of Iranian-backed Shia jihadists, would recapture Mosul from Daesh within a month.
"We completely trust our security forces to liberate all of Mosul within about a month," Hisham Ali Akbar Ibrahim Al-Alawi told Turkish state-owned Anadolu Agency in an interview. According to Al-Alawi, the Turkmen-majority city of Tal Afar and Kurdish-occupied Sinjar would follow next.
"We will then proceed to liberate all other towns and villages in the region, starting from Tal Afar, including Sinjar," he said. Sinjar is largely free of Daesh militants already, but clashes have recently erupted there between Syrian Kurds and militants connected to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU.
The Iraqi ambassador also commented on the bilateral relations between Turkey and Iraq, saying he was particularly hopeful about 2017.
"We are pretty optimistic about developing economic relations between Iraq and Turkey and increasing the mutual trade volume which has fallen during the previous years," the ambassador said.
"We are also optimistic about reinforcing cooperation in energy, education and tourism," he said, adding security and military intelligence were the other two areas where the two countries should cooperate more.
On 19 February, Iraqi forces – backed by a US-led coalition and Iranian-backed Shia terrorist groups – began fresh operations aimed at purging Daesh extremists from western Mosul.
The offensive came as part of a wider campaign launched on 17 October to retake the entire city, which Daesh overran – along with much of northern and western Iraq – in mid-2014. Baghdad has mustered some 100,000 men to fight approximately 5,000 Daesh militants.