Major Iraqi Ground Assault Planned Against ISIL
22:04 09.02.2015(updated 22:20 09.02.2015)
Struggling to loosen the grip of Islamic State-controlled territory in the country's north, a top US envoy says Iraqi forces are preparing to launch a large-scale ground offensive in the coming weeks, with coalition air support by its side.
During the rush hour commute through Adan Square in Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest early Monday morning. The blast killed 15 people and wounded 45 others. This bombing was the second in just three days. On Saturday, another bombing killed 23 inside of a restaurant in the Jadida district.
Both of these attacks were against Shiite-majority districts of the Iraqi capital, perpetrated by Sunni extremists believed to be associated with the Islamic State.
These bombings, and others in the weeks and months prior, have strengthened the resolve of Iraqi and coalition forces to try and push back Islamic State-controlled territory. John Allen, the US coordinator for the anti-ISIL coalition of Western and Arab countries, told Jordan's Petra news agency that Iraqi troops will begin a major offensive "in the weeks ahead."
"There will be a major counter offensive on the ground in Iraq," Allen said.
He also stressed that coalition airstrikes will be a key part of that strategy.
"When the Iraqi forces begin the ground campaign to take back Iraq, the coalition will provide major firepower associated with that," he said.
The Islamic State gained a large swath of land across Syria and Iraq last June, and their foothold has allowed them to carry about the attacks on Baghdad.
Speaking to the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the effects of US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State.
"We are forcing them to change tactics," Kerry said, referencing the terrorist group's defeat in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane.
Kerry said there have been 2,000 airstrikes since August, and that has forced the Islamic State to lose "one-fifth of the area they had in their control."
Jordan has already launched a series of airstrikes against the Islamic State in response to a video released by the terrorist group which purported to show one of their pilots, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, being burned alive. Jordan promised an "earth-shattering," and has launched 56 airstrikes since Thursday.
"…19 targets were destroyed, including training camps and equipment," Jordanian air force chief Major General Mansour al-Jobour told reporters.
The Islamic State claims that one of these strikes killed American hostage Kayla Jean Mueller, burying her in the rubble of one of the destroyed buildings. These claims have yet to be verified by US authorities.
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