Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged to liberate “every inch” of Iraq’s land from Islamic State (IS), confirming that Iraqi troops are preparing for a new offensive.
“We will not leave a single inch of the land of Iraq in the hands of Daesh (IS) terrorists,” Abadi said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Abadi, who is also the Commander-In-Chief of Iraqi forces, attributed the delay of liberation operations to the preparation work by the security forces.
Abadi’s comments came as the Iraqi forces, including the predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units and Sunni tribal fighters, are taking new positions west of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, preparing for battles to liberate the IS-held areas.
The Iraqi forces still have to wage more offensives to drive out IS militants from their redoubts in Hawijah in southwestern Kirkuk, the adjacent sprawling rugged areas in eastern Salahudin province, in addition to the border towns with Syria in the western province of Anbar.
Abadi also mentioned a meeting he held with a Kurdish delegation, during which they discussed the referendum of independence for the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
“The dialogue with the Kurdish delegation was carried out in accordance with the interests of the country, and the atmosphere of respect and understanding has dominated the meeting,” Abadi said, adding that the “redrawing of the border (inside Iraq) may lead to tragedies”.
Abadi officially declared Mosul’s liberation from IS on July 10 after nearly nine months of fierce fighting.