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AL KUWAIT, October 17. /TASS/. Iraqi Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the start of a ground operation to liberate the country’s second largest city of Mosul from militants of the Islamic State terrorist organization, Al Sumaria News, an independent Iraqi satellite television network, reported.
The premier underscored that "the Iraqi army and detachments of local police" will liberate the city from Islamic State militants. "We are calling on local residents to cooperate with the liberation forces," he said.
According to Sky News Arabia sources, the strength of ground units used in the operation exceeds 60,000 people. They are supported by the air forces of the international antiterrorism coalition led by the United States, the government aircraft, as well as artillery. Massive artillery preparation has been underway for a few days.
Al Sumaria reported that the government forces consist of Iraqi Armed Forces servicemen, antiterrorism units, officers of the federal and local police, Kurd paramilitary formations, Shiite militia and Sunni militia. Besides, hundreds of items of hardware and artillery weapons have been delivered to the frontline.
Mosul, which was nearly without resistance given away to extremists in June 2014, currently has about 1.3 million people. They are held hostage by over 6,000 Islamic State militants. Radical Islamists consider the inhabited locality their capital in Iraq.