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Stepping stone to liberating Mosul

Mar 03,2015 - Last updated at Mar 03,2015

The battle for  recapturing the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from the grip of Daesh is being viewed as a watershed in the larger war against this radical gang that took control of large swathes of land in Iraq last year.

One first step towards this goal is the assault that started on Monday to retake Tikrit, one of Daesh’s main strongholds.

About 30,000 Iraqi troops and militias backed by aircraft pounded jihadists in and around Tikrit, a target that has proved difficult to achieve as Daesh has been resisting attacks against it for months now.

Tikrit has both symbolic and strategic importance, according to the military commander for the Salaheddin province, and is a stepping stone on the way to liberating Mosul.

The US military is reportedly helping the Iraqi armed forces with heavy military hardware and offering technical and aerial assistance, but the expectation is that the battle will be protracted.

Daesh has been retreating somehow in recent times in the face of the onslaught of the re-equipped Iraqi army.

It captured Mosul and its environs in a sneak attack last year that caught the Iraqi army off guard. Already the defending Iraqi forces in Mosul were demoralised and poorly motivated, so it did not take much for Daesh to capture the city.

Retaking it from Daesh would be as much a military victory as a moral one.

In the battle for Mosul, Baghdad will need the assistance of the Kurdish forces operating in the north of the country.

Regaining this strategic city is crucial, for, as former US secretary of defence Leon Panetta said in a recent interview with the CNN, Iraq could very well turn into another Afghanistan if the Iraqi army fails to win the war against Daesh soon.

This is an ominous prediction for Iraq’s future with serious security implications for neighbouring Arab states.

Aware of that, the Arab countries must pool their military resources to prevent Iraq from becoming a failed state and, as such, a haven for terrorists.

The battle for Mosul, therefore, is symbolically the battle for the entire country. Beyond that, it is a battle against forces of darkness that pose a terrible threat to the region.

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