Local sources in Nineveh province disclosed that the ISIL has equipped and armed hundreds of children who had previously undergone military training to join the war against the government troops in the city of Mosul.
“The ISIL has stationed these armed children in the streets and regions of Mosul city,” a local source said.
He noted that the terrorists have equipped children with machineguns, handguns and rifles.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi announced early on Monday that the country’s armed forces and popular troops had started large-scale operation to take back the ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital, Mosul.
Prime Minister Al-Abadi appeared on the state TV an hour after midnight to declare that his country’s army, security and mobilized volunteer troops have started the long-awaited offensive to take back the country’s second-largest city.
“The hour has come and the moment of great victory is near,” Al-Abadi said early on Monday in a speech on state TV, flanked by the armed forces’ top commanders.
Al-Abadi vowed that the military troops will take maximum caution to save civilian lives and avoid collateral damage in the city that is believed to still be home to over a million people.
The premier asked the civilian population to raise white flags over their buildings and contact the government troops for any kind of helpful information that they might have about ISIL militants.
“We urge you, the heroic people of Mosul, to cooperate with our security forces to rescue you,” the Prime Minister added.
Mosul in Nineveh province that is ISIL’s last stronghold in Iraq was occupied by the terrorist cult on June 10, 2014 and its liberation marks an era of demise for ISIL in Iraq.
Mosul was the first city taken by the terrorist group and it was there that ISIL Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared his so-called caliphate on June 29, 2014.
ISIL could stretch control over 40 percent of Iraq after it took Mosul over two years ago, but now holds only 10 percent of the country after losing battles in such major cities as Beiji, Tikrit, Fallujah and Ramadi in the last one year.
Mosul is of paramount importance both to Iraq and the ISIL as it is in an oil-rich region close to the borders with Syria and Turkey, while it has been a regional trade hub for the last several centuries.
In addition to smuggling crude stolen from the oil wells of Nineveh, ISIL also levied forceful taxes for various reasons from the over 1-million-strong population that is still believed to be living in the city.
Loss of Mosul will inflict a major blow to the terrorist cult as it will lose a major source of its revenues.