By Serhad Shaker
NINEVEH, Iraq (AA): Sixty thousand soldiers are participating in an Iraqi army offensive aimed at capturing the Daesh terrorist group’s last redoubts in western Mosul, according to an Iraqi military source.
On Sunday, the Iraqi army began a wide-ranging military operation to purge remaining Daesh militants from the city’s western districts.
“A total of 60,000 soldiers are taking part in the operation,” Army Brigadier-General Mohsen al-Quraishi told Anadolu Agency on Monday, adding that a U.S.-led coalition was providing air and artillery support.
According to al-Quraishi, foreign troops are also deployed on the ground to support the Iraqi military in the fight for western Mosul.
Iraqi forces have reportedly captured 17 villages on Mosul’s western outskirts so far within the context of ongoing anti-Daesh operations.
According to UN estimates, there are some 800,000 civilians living in western Mosul.
Last October, the Iraqi army — backed by the U.S.-led coalition and local allies on the ground — began a wide-ranging campaign to retake Mosul, which the terrorist group overran in mid-2014.
[Photo: Iraqi security forces are seen on a military vehicle as they advance towards the Mosul International Airport Soldiers during an operation carried out to retake western part of Mosul from Daesh in Mosul, Iraq on February 20, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Yunus Keleş/AA]