Mosul offensive is going faster than planned: Iraqi PM

Mosul offensive is going faster than planned: Iraqi PMIraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday that Iraqi forces were moving faster than expected towards Islamic State’s stronghold of Mosul, and that the coordination between Shi’ite militias and Kurds showed Iraq’s unity in opposing the group.

Speaking on a video conference call from Baghdad, Abadi said all efforts were being made to create humanitarian corridors for civilians fleeing Iraq’s second-largest city, where some 1.5 million people still live.

“The forces are pushing towards the town more quickly than we thought and more quickly than we had programmed in our campaign plan,” Abadi said.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces said on Tuesday they had secured some 20 villages on the outskirts of Mosul, the biggest city under the control of Islamic State, which grabbed vast stretches of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Abadi also said human rights violations would not be accepted. He sought to try to reassure international backers that his country was entering a new phase of cooperation, to avoid falling into the sectarian violence that has torn it apart since a U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.

“Our war today in Mosul is an Iraqi war conducted by Iraqis for Iraqis and for the defence of Iraq’s territory,” he said, stressing that it was the first time in 25 years that Iraqi forces had entered northern Kurdish territory to fight together.

“Full Iraqi unity is shining through and more than ever showing the unity to vanquish terrorism,” he said.
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