Isis in Iraq: 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops will launch operation to reclaim Mosul

US Central Command says 25,000 troops will be involved in mission

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Iraqi and Kurdish troops will launch an operation to retake Mosul from Isis militants in April or May, a US military official has announced.

The US Central Command official outlined the mission to take back Iraq’s second biggest city, which he said will involve 12 Iraqi brigades and up to 25,000 troops, in an unprecedented telegraph on Thursday.

Five Iraqi army units are due to start training with US coalition forces in Iraq. These will be supplemented by three smaller brigades serving as reserve forces and three Peshmerga brigades.

Separately, a ‘Mosul fighting-force’ comprised of former police officers and tribal forces from the region would enter the Isis stronghold once the army had cleared it of Isis militants.

The spring offensive is designed to swerve both the sweltering summer heat and the start of Ramadan in June.

However, the official said the operation could be delayed if forces are not ready by that point.

"But by the same token, if they're not ready, if the conditions are not set, if all the equipment they need is not physically there and they (aren't) trained to a degree in which they will be successful, we have not closed the door on continuing to slide that to the right," he told reporters.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced on Monday that plans were being made to liberate Mosul , which fell to Isis in June last year when militants overran the city.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on the outskirts of Mosul

He told the BBC the offensive would be “the only chance we have” to recapture Mosul and “kick Daesh (another name for Isis) out".

The US official also revealed for the first time that Qatar has agreed to host a training site for coalition forces to train moderate Syrian rebels who would return to Syria to fight Isis militants there.

In February it emerged that thousands of displaced Christians had formed their own militia in order to reclaim land taken from them by Isis.

Thousands of Christians and Yazidis fled their homes in Mosul when militants ordered them to convert, pay a special tax or be put to death, leaving more than 150,000 displaced across the country.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press