The Iraqi Army’s 9th Armoured Division imposed full control over the Makhoul Mountains in the northern countryside of the Salaheddine Governorate on Friday, putting an end to the ISIS presence at a place described by military experts as Gate of Mosul.
According to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, the Iraqi Armed Forces were able to liberate the Makhoul Mountains after a two day long battle with the ISIS terrorists, as reported by IRNA and translated by IFP.
With the Makhoul Mountains under their control, the Iraqi Armed Forces can now turn their attention to the strategic village of Al-Shirqat in Mosul’s southern countryside.
Iraq’s defence ministry is aiming to deploy 4,500 soldiers to the Makhmour front in preparation for the long-anticipated offensive against ISIS in Mosul.
Iraq’s Defence Minister Khaled al-Obaidi who visited Makhmour on Saturday did reportedly discuss the deployment of troops with Kurdish military officials.
During his visit to Makhmour the Iraqi defence chief said that the Mosul offensive will come sooner and harsher than what ISIS may expect.
“The Mosul operation will be no later than the first half of this year,” he said. “The operation to liberate Nineveh will be sooner and harsher than what ISIS expects. It will be done through new technics and experience Iraqi forces have gained in battle,” al-Obaidi said.
“We will use such new weapons that will shock ISIS. It is possible that the Peshmerga will also participate and play their role,” he vowed.
The preparations for Mosul offensive came after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced last Friday that the strategic city of Fallujah had been liberated from control of ISIS.
“Fallujah has returned to the homeland. Our troops are in control of the city and have tightened their grip on its centre,” Abadi said in a televised address on June 17.
Fallujah, around 50 kilometres west of the capital Baghdad, was the first Iraqi city to fall to ISIS in early 2014.
The second largest Iraqi city of Mosul was also captured by ISIS terrorists in 2014. The militants overran large swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2013 and 2014.