Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed the elimination of the Daesh terror group in the near future amid advances on the ground by the army and allied fighters as part of the operation to liberate the city of Mosul.
Abadi made the remarks on Saturday during a visit to Mar Kurkis (St. George) Monastery in northeastern periphery of Mosul.
The Iraqi leader said that he brought “a message to the residents inside Mosul who are hostages in the hands of Daesh - we will liberate you soon.”
Mosul fell to Daesh in 2014, the year the terror group began its campaign of death and destruction in northern and western Iraq.
On October 17, the Iraqi army, volunteer Shia and Sunni fighters as well as Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched a long-awaited offensive to retake Mosul.
Abadi further stressed that the camping’s progress and the advance into Mosul had been faster than expected.
However, he signaled that the advance may be intermittent in the face of resistance by the extremists and their bombings and sniper fire.
“Our heroic forces will not retreat and will not be broken. Maybe in the face of terrorist acts, criminal acts, there will be some delay,” Abadi said.
He further noted that the scale of the destruction caused by Daesh in the country is much more than the one left behind by the Mongolian invasion.
Also on Saturday, the Iraqi premier visited Erbil, where he met with senior officials of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
He also sat down for closed-door talks with KRG leader Masoud Barzani.
The Kurdish leader's chief of staff Fuad Hussein said that the two officials discussed more coordination between Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the Mosul operation.
Based on agreements between Baghdad and Erbil, Peshmerga forces will not enter Mosul, Hussein added.
Iraqi army gains
Separately, the Iraqi Defense Ministry announced that 30 terrorists were killed and an arms depot was destroyed in airstrikes in the village of al-Zawiyah, south of Mosul.
Two ringleaders of the terrorist group were among those slain.
The liberation of the strategic town of Hammam al-Alil in southern Mosul was among major gains by the Iraqi forces on Saturday.
Footage released by Iraqi media showed Hammam al-Alil residents celebrating army victories against Daesh.
According to reports, 11 villages were recaptured in the area while the Iraqi flag was hoisted over buildings.
Some 35 other Takfiri elements were also killed, 17 car bombs were set off and 15 improvised explosive devices (IED) were defused as part of the operation on Saturday.