MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. The operation on liberating Iraq’s Mosul from the Islamic State terrorists has not yet started in essence, Russia’s Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov said on Wednesday.
"Regardless of all this sensation on the Western screens, it is necessary to understand that the operation itself has not yet started in essence. We observe only the concentration of grouping on the ground and shelling of the city facilities carried out from rocket artillery and aviation," Gerasimov said.
According to the official, the Russian military are monitoring the operation round the clock, while satellites and reconnaissance aircraft have been redeployed there.
"We monitor the situation in the Mosul area and the course of the operation to block ISIS [former name of Islamic State outlawed in Russia - TASS] militants in the city around the clock. Reconnaissance satellites have been redeployed there. Also, more than ten of our reconnaissance aircraft , including unmanned aircraft, are working in close proximity to this area," Gerasimov said.
The General Staff has also warned the coalition of consequences if IS terrorists fleed Mosul.
"Our key attention is focused on possible attempts by militants to break away from Mosul or by agreement leave the city in the Syrian direction unimpeded," Gerasimov said.
"We hope our partners from the international coalition are aware of what will be the result of freely wandering large gangs of ISIL [former name of Islamic State terrorist organization] in the Middle East region," he said.
"So it’s necessary not to drive terrorists from one country to another, but eliminate them on the spot," Gerasimov said.
A military operation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul began in the morning on October 17. In addition to Iraqi government forces, it involves Kurdish units and the international anti-terrorist coalition. The Iraqi military say up to 6,000 IS militants are currently inside the city. Mosul - Iraq’s second largest city with an estimated population of 1.3 million people - has been under the control of the Islamic State terrorist organization (outlawed in Russia) for more than two years.
No separation of opposition from militants observed in Aleppo
The general has also dwelled upon the situation in Syria's Aleppo.
"The airstrikes of the Russian Aerospace Force and the Syrian Air Force against the militants in the Aleppo area have been suspended for more than 24 hours but no actions have been taken in order to separate the armed opposition groups from Jabhat al-Nusra. Moreover, the terrorist continue shelling the civilian dwelling areas of Aleppo with rocket launchers and artillery systems," he said.