Baghdad’s FM: war against IS progressing better than expected

Baghdad’s Foreign minister declared that the fight to wrest back control of Mosul from the Islamic State was making progress, citing what he called better-than-expected cohesion within Iraqi security forces and the US-led coalition. Ibrahim Al-Ja’afari said it was difficult to predict how long the battle would take, but more than 1,700 Islamic State fighters had been killed, 120 had been taken prisoner, and about one-third of the area had been freed. “Up to now 1,700 Islamic State fighters have been killed, 120 prisoners and 650 destroyed explosive charges and car bombs. Iraqi forces have taken many prisoners. A third of the whole area of the government of Nineveh, which is bigger than the city of Mosul, has been liberated and I think that is a very good sign for positive progress and the success of the operation, and that it is going better than we expected,” said Al-Ja’afari.

With regard to the Turkish demand to take part in the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq, Foreign Minister Al-Ja’afari said his country would not accept any intervention by Turkey in its border region.  Turkey is worried that Shi’ite militias who are supporting Iraqi forces could seek revenge against Sunni Turkmen in the city of Tal Afar, which sits on the main road between Mosul and Syria and has been a center for insurgents in Iraq since 2003. Al-Ja’afari said Germany could potentially mediate with Turkey, but he had not asked for any specific help as-of-yet. Steinmeier said it was important to stick to the agreement that the core areas of Mosul would be liberated by Iraqi Sunni forces, not Shi’ite militias; to assure Sunni powers that their Muslim brethren would not be hurt by Shi’ite rivals.