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Iraq drops leaflets warning of impending offensive in Mosul

By Allen Cone
Iraq drops leaflets warning of impending offensive in Mosul
Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said, "the preparation for the operation to liberate Mosul have been completed and have paved the way to begin the Mosul operation." Photo courtesy of Kurdistan Region Presidency.

MOSUL, Iraq, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Iraqi air force planes dropped leaflets on Mosul warning the residents of an impending full-scale offensive to liberate the country's second-largest city from the Islamic State.

"It's victory time," read one of the leaflets that were dropped Saturday night.

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The leaflets said airstrikes "will not target civilians." Residents were told to avoid known locations of IS militants.

The four-page leaflets urged civilians to "Keep calm and tell your children that it is only a game or thunder before the rain. Women should not scream or shout, to preserve the children's spirit."

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Residents were urged to tape over windows to prevent the glass from shattering.

Mosul residents say IS fighters have blocked major roads and bridges in and out of Mosul.

Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani announced Sunday the start of the offensive in a statement posted online, saying "the preparation for the operation to liberate Mosul have been completed and have paved the way to begin the Mosul operation." He added, "It is my sincere hope that this operation will be successful and that we will collectively liberate the people of Mosul from the tyranny of the terrorists of the Islamic State."

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"The hour has come and the moment of great victory is near," Prime Minister Haider Abadi later said early Monday in a speech on state TV, surrounded by the armed forces' top commanders.

Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy to the anti-IS coalition, responded on Twitter, "We are proud to stand with you in this historic operation."

The IS seized Mosul in June 2014 and is the group's last major urban stronghold in the country.

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