TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi, known as Popular Mobilization Forces, announced that the first stage of the massive operation to liberate Mosul from Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group includes securing safe exit routes for civilians to leave the besieged city.
According to the Arabic-language al-Manar TV, Hashd al-Shaabi emphasized that as part of the first stage of the operation, its forces will also liberate villages in the suburbs of Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
Local reports also said that the Iraqi and the US-led coalition forces have mounted a heli-borne assault on Sothern Mosul.
According to the reports, the Iraqi and US paratroopers have been deployed to a district south of Mosul.
Hashd al-Shaabi also announced that it has used new missiles to hit Daesh positions in the operation to end two-year occupation of the city by the terror group.
The Iraqi army launched the offensive on Sunday aimed at wresting Mosul from the hands of Daesh.
"The time has come for the greatest victory," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced late Sunday on state TV. "I announce the start of Liberating Mosul Operation, by the will of Iraqis, and after depending on Allah."
Al-Abadi said that Daesh would be "punished" for its crimes and that the province's cities and villages will be rebuilt.
"We will rebuild what those criminals have destroyed," he said. "We will bring life back to Mosul and all other areas around Mosul."
In a statement, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the offensive a "decisive moment in the campaign to deliver (Daesh) a lasting defeat."
Though the operation began Sunday, its plans had been known long before.
Iraq's air force dropped leaflets warning Mosul residents that the liberators are coming, and the Baghdad government directed broadcasts directly into the heart of the occupied city.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces have circled the country's second-largest city and cut off any supply — or escape — routes that the Daesh fighters holed-up in Mosul could use.