SOUTHWEST ASIA --- The government of Iraq and Iraqi security forces announced today the commencement of operations to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.
In a release, officials said the battle for the complete liberation of Mosul cannot come soon enough for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens who for more than two years have suffered under ISIS oppression and terror.
"ISIS's cruelty, brutality and reach show they are not just a threat in Iraq and Syria, but to the region and the entire world," said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.
ISF 'Have Risen to the Challenge'
Over the course of the past two years, and in particular the past four months in Mosul, the Iraqi forces have proved themselves to be an increasingly capable, formidable and professional force, the release said.
"Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge," Townsend said in the release. "They have taken the fight to the enemy and sacrificed their blood for the people of Iraq and the rest of the world."
The release said the ISF is "standing fast" against ISIS terrorists who employ ruthless defensive tactics, including the employment of suicide vehicles, improvised explosive devices, explosive-laden unmanned aerial vehicles and chemical weapons.
"While ISIS indiscriminately targets civilians the Iraqi security forces continue to do everything in their power to protect the citizens of Mosul, of all sects and religions," said Townsend. "They have shown all of Iraq how to be a unified nation."
Over the course of the past two years, the release said, a coalition of more than 65 nations unified to defeat ISIS. The coalition contributes by providing the Iraqi forces with equipment, training, intelligence and surveillance, precision fire support and military advice to leaders, the release said.
To date, the coalition has conducted more than 10,000 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and trained and equipped more than 70,000 Iraqi forces to support Iraqi operations, according to the release.
"The entire Coalition salutes and wishes God's blessings on the brave Iraqi soldiers, police and militias who today are fighting to liberate their country and make the region and the world a safer place," Townsend said in the release.