The good news: two years after the Islamic State swept through large swaths of north-western Syria, and seized control of upwards of one-third of Iraq, a coalition of U.S, Arab and Kurdish military forces are poised to launch a massive new battle to liberate the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest.
The bad news: how much time do you have?
- For one thing, while ISIS is losing ground in Iraq, and even losing some ground in Syria, it’s ideology has spread to some three-dozen countries.
- Second, ISIS is recruiting jihadists from well over 100 countries.
- Third, ISIS operatives and loyalists are launching deadly terror attacks all over the world, including in North America and various NATO countries.
- Four, the battle for Mosul — repeatedly promised yet repeatedly delayed over the past year — could cause ISIS to slaughter many more innocents.
- Fifth, the battle for Mosul could also create a massive new refugee surge.
In the days ahead, I’ll keep you updated on this multi-national effort to retake Mosul, end the hellish ISIS-led genocide against Christians and Yazidis, and drive ISIS out of northern Iraq once and for all. I’ll also report on a fascinating Iraqi proposal to create a new province in northern Iraq where Christians and other minorities can be safe.
For now, please join me in praying for the people of Mosul. Please pray the Lord would liberate them from the ISIS nightmare they have been suffering for two years. Pray that the Lord would show grace and favor on the coalition preparing to attack ISIS. Please pray, too, for the various Christian ministries (including the organization we founded, The Joshua Fund) that is trying to minister to refugees in Iraq, strengthen the local persecuted Church there, and be a light in the darkness.
That said, here’s the latest news reports on preparations for the battle of Mosul:
“Thousands of troops are massing outside ISIS-held Mosul in preparation for a battle that could spell the end of the terror group in Iraq,” reports the UK Daily Mail. “The fight to reclaim the city is expected to begin next week in what will be the biggest Iraqi military operation since the US-led invasion in 2003.”
“A successful conquest would destroy ISIS’s last bastion of power in the country, and represent a serious blow to its legitimacy,” the British paper notes. “Some 30,000 Iraqi troops are expected to take part in the battle, with support from US special forces and western coalition warplanes.”
The BBC reports:
- A planned military offensive to reclaim Mosul from so-called Islamic State (IS) could see up to a million Iraqis flee their homes.
- The UN’s refugee agency has told the BBC how it and its partners are gearing up to deal with the expected humanitarian crisis by building camps to house those in need.
- The much-delayed operation to drive IS from Iraq’s second-largest city is expected to begin this month, more than two years after the jihadists over-ran Mosul and proclaimed its caliphate.
- In preparation, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners are stepping up contingency plans, informed by a number of lessons learned from previous offensives, such as Falluja, says Bruno Geddo, a UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Iraq….
- An estimated 3.3 million people — equivalent to almost 10% of the population of Iraq — have been uprooted by fighting since the start of 2014. Those currently fleeing Mosul and its surrounding areas join about half-a-million people who fled the city in June 2014.
- There are no firm figures on how many people remain in Mosul, but there were more than two million when IS took the city more than two years ago.
- Mr Geddo estimates the population could now be “anywhere between 1.2 and 1.5m people.”….
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