Daesh leaders, families fleeing Mosul: Iraqi minister

The Iraqi defense minister says some Daesh Takfiri commanders have fled Mosul in northern Iraq as the army and allies push forward to liberate the city form the grip of militants.

“A number of … leaders (of Daesh) in Mosul, they and their families sold their belongings and withdrew towards Syria,” Khalid al-Obeidi said late Saturday.

The official, who was speaking to Iraqiya state television, said some Daesh commanders and families sought to infiltrate into Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, located north and east of Mosul.

Iraq is preparing for an offensive into Mosul, the country’s second largest city which fell into the hands of Daesh in the summer of 2014. The city is the last remaining bastion of Daesh in Iraq as the military and allies have managed to retake key towns and villages from the militants over the past months.

Iraqis managed to recapture the city of Fallujah, west of the capital Baghdad, in late June. The city was a main hub of Daesh militancy in Iraq and its liberation boosted hope for Iraq’s final push toward Mosul.

Earlier reports had suggested that Daesh was relocating many of its militants from western and northern Iraq into neighboring Syria.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Friday, Obeidi commended Iran Iran’s “continuous support” for Iraq in its war against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, noting however that only Iraqi forces would participate in the liberation of Mosul and the Iraqi government would not allow any foreign country to intervene in the operation.

Obeidi criticized Turkey for sending its troops to Iraq, warning of a war greater than the one against Daesh if Turkey do not draw its forces from northern Iraq.

“The presence of Turkish troops in Bashiqa obstructs the observations to liberate Nineveh. This is a fact. When Prime Minister [Haider al-Abadi] warned of a war greater than the war on Daesh, he made his statements based on information he had,” he further said.

“If Turkish troops intervene, then the city of Mosul and the province of Nineveh will become an arena for regional conflicts and this is what the premier predicts. Therefore, I second his opinions,” Obeidi added.

The northern and western parts of Iraq have been plagued by gruesome violence ever since Daesh began a campaign of terror in the country in June 2014, when they overran Mosul and declared it their so-called headquarters in Iraq.

The Daesh terrorists have gained notoriety for their barbarity, heinous atrocities and sacrilegious acts. The militants have been accused of committing gross human rights violations and war crimes in the areas they control in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

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