ERBIL – The US-led coalition said that the Islamic State (ISIS) has between 3,000 and 4,500 fighters in Mosul and that there are no signs that the group is leaving its de facto capital in Iraq.
“We think anywhere from 3,000 to 4,500 [ISIS] fighters are in Mosul, somewhere in that ball park. It’s a mixture of Iraqi and foreign fighters,” Colonel Dorrian, a coalition spokesman said.
Abu Azzam al-Muhajir, an ISIS militant from Saudi Arabia, disagreed telling ARA News there are at least 7,000 militants “ready to defend Mosul.”
“Also, there are still 500,000 civilians living in Mosul, and they will not accept [their] return to the central government’s authority and rule by the Shia,” al-Muhajir told ARA News.
The US-led coalition said it will continue to attack ISIS in Mosul. “[ISIS] shows no sign of really trying to leave Mosul at this point. Really, what they’ve done is they’ve continued to dig in, build elaborate defenses and so we’re really ready for a tough fight there,” Col Dorrian said.
“The Iraqi security forces have been well trained to do urban style warfare. That’s one of the things that we’ve done for refit. We are expecting [ISIS to have] a mixture of Iraqi and foreign fighters,” he added.
An ISIS source told ARA News that group has cordoned all the roads to Nineveh Governorate and has completed almost 80 percent of their field works around Mosul.
Those field works include a row of trenches, which are reportedly filled with crude oil. The trenches can be set alight to obscure visibility. ISIS has also erected concrete barriers near neighborhood entrances and key road junctures.
The coalition’s Col Dorrian said that at least 8 brigades of the Iraqi Army will march on Mosul. “We also expect the Iraqi Police to be involved, because they’re going to be a part of the effort to maintain security once areas have been liberated. [The police need] to hold those areas so [ISIS] can’t re-infiltrate.”
“We think it’s going to be a very large battle. We do expect the [Kurdish] Peshmerga to be involved, although the details of their involvement are still being worked out,” Dorrian said. ”We also expect there to be tribal forces involved.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg and Chalak Haji
Source: ARA News