The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, stated that Moscow will take military measures in case militants of the so-called Islamic Statetry to flee from Mosul into Syria.
“Mosul isn’t fully besieged. I don’t know the reason. Maybe, they were simply unable to do that. I hope that they simply were unable and not that they didn’t want to do that. At least, this corridor poses risks that Islamic State will leave Iraq and Mosul for Syria. If this happens, if additional contingents of Islamic State emerge in Syria, where our group is working at the request of the legitimate government, we, of course, will evaluate the situation and make decisions of political and military nature,” TASS reports Lavrov as saying.
“According to the Foreign Minister, approximately 1.5 million people live in Mosul. According to some assessments by U.N. representatives, the number of civilian refugees in Geneva and New York can be in a very wide range: from 200,000 to 900,000 people. Currently, there are no adequate capacities to host such a large number of refugees either in Iraq or in Syria and other neighboring countries,” Lavrov noted.
In addition, Lavrov stated that “The operation will not be easy, it provides for carrying out of airstrikes as in the case with Aleppo. The operation also includes the actions of ground forces, which are there in a quite large number. It is crucial to the regional situation that there is already competition for the right of ground forces to take the city of Mosul,” he explained.
Earlier, the Prime Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, announced the beginning of the ground phase of the battle for Mosul. The total number of ground forces involved in the operation is about sixty thousand people. The Air Force of the International Anti-terrorist Coalition led by the United States, government aviation and artillery provide them with support. The massive artillery preparation has already lasted for several days.