Silêmanî, Kurdistan – In the early hours of Monday morning Kurdish and Iraqi forces have started to massively shell the ISIS-held megacity of Mosul. The offensive to liberate the city has begun with around 30,000 Kurdish Peshmerga forces and 80,000 Iraqi soldiers.
“Our dearest people in Nineveh province, the victory bell has rung, and the operations to liberate Mosul have begun,” said Iraq’s Prime Minister in a televised statement early Monday. "I am announcing today the beginning of these heroic operations to liberate you from the brutality and terrorism of ISIS. God willing, we will meet soon on the ground of Mosul where we will all celebrate the liberation and your freedom."
One night earlier Kurdish troops had started a massive shelling of the city’s outskirts. The offensive at the eastern front will be led by Kurdish forces for the first 48 hours. The Kurds want to liberate Kurdish villages and neighborhoods, after that the Iraqi Army will take over and enter the city center. The ground forces are supported by coalition warplanes.
“It is my sincere hope that this operation will be successful and that we will collectively liberate the people of Mosul from the tyranny of the terrorists of the Islamic State,” writes Kurdish President Masoud Barzani on the Kurdish presidency’s homepage. The president adds: “Furthermore, I hope for the safe return of the IDPs to the province of Nineveh.”
President Obama’s special envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, Brett McGurk, praised the Iraqi and Kurdish forces on Twitter and wrote: “Godspeed to the heroic Iraqi Forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, and Ninewa volunteers. We are proud to stand with you in this historic operation.”
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) October 16, 2016
German politician Tobias Huch, who has visited Kurdistan on several occasions, says to Corduene: “We Europeans should be thankful towards the Kurds since they defend our freedom. I am convinced that the Peshmerga’s offensive will be successful because their willpower cannot be beaten by anybody.”
The joint operation of Arabs and Kurds seems to be the start of a new friendly approach of the two sides. Early Monday Iraqi state TVs televised Kurdish military music and footage of Peshmerga forces, unthinkable some years ago. According to Kurdish politicians, Erbil and Bagdad have agreed on the Kurdish terms to participate in the offensive. The Kurds want to stay in every region they liberate from the so-called “Islamic State,” including Kirkuk and Sinjar.
Asked about the situation a Kurdish Peshmerga answers with high self-confidence: “Our independence will come, no matter if Baghdad accepts it or not. However, what Baghdad can influence today is our future relations, do they want an enemy or a good neighbor?”
Iraq seems to have decided for the good neighbor and the Kurds take this offer gratefully by participating in the liberation of Mosul, a largely Arab city today.