By Haydar Hadi
BAGHDAD (AA) – The Iraqi military is willing to launch a campaign to recapture the northern city of Mosul from the Daesh terrorist group in tandem with ongoing operations to retake the city of Fallujah, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri said Thursday.
In exclusive comments to Anadolu Agency, al-Jubouri addressed a number of questions regarding the political crises now plaguing war-torn Iraq.
Regarding Fallujah, he said: "Daesh terrorists have occupied the city for a long time [since 2014], during which they have consolidated their position."
"We [i.e., the army] must enter the city," he asserted. "Our forces haven’t entered Fallujah thus far because we fear putting civilian lives at risk."
He added: "But we have already seized surrounding areas."
"This is a war and Daesh is a formidable enemy," al-Jubouri stressed. "Operations must proceed until the group is entirely eliminated."
The parliamentary speaker also confirmed that rights violations had been committed by the Shia militias now helping the Iraqi army retake Fallujah.
"The [Iraqi] presidency has launched a fact-finding commission to investigate [the issue], but these violations give a negative message and overshadow our victories [against Daesh]," he said.
The Hashd al-Shaabi, an umbrella group of Iraqi Shia militias, "is operating under the auspices of the Iraqi army and is not authorized to enter the center of Fallujah city," al-Jubouri noted.
- Retaking Mosul
He went on to note that Iraqi forces were determined to retake the northern city of Mosul in upcoming days.
"Mosul is strategically important for us," he said. "Daesh took the city [in 2014] with a view to declaring its so-called caliphate."
"It’s important to mobilize civilian residents [of Mosul] alongside army forces," he stressed, going on to vow that, by the end of 2016, Iraq would be "entirely free of Daesh elements".
He added: "Recent losses sustained by Daesh and other terrorist groups in Iraq are an indication of this."
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Ahmet Sait Akcay contributed to this story from Ankara.