Iraqi leaders who have left the Mosul area since its takeover by Islamic State are plotting to form a militia to take back the embattled city.
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According to a report in government-owned Dubai newspaper The National, council members for Mosul and the regional governor say that the militia would join forces with the U.S.-led coalition fighting the extremist Sunni militants in Iraq, as well as in Syria.
Washington and its Arab allies opened their air assault against the extremist group last week, going after its military facilities, training camps, heavy weapons and oil installations. The campaign has expanded upon air strikes the United States has been conducting against the militants in Iraq since early August. It aims to roll back the extremists gains in Syria and Iraq, and ultimately to destroy the group.
The exiled Iraqi leaders are currently based in Iraqi Kurdistan. Agreeing on the details of the plan has proven complicated, The National reported, although they agree that a militia force is vital for taking back the city.
The Islamic State group has seized control of a huge chunk of Syria and Iraq, and has declared the establishment of a self-styled caliphate ruled by its strict interpretation of Shariah law there. Its brutal tactics, which include mass killings and beheadings, have helped galvanize the international community to go after the militants.
“It is clear that we, the people and leaders of Mosul, must take a lead role in liberating our city,” The National cited Bashar Mahmoud, a Kurd who heads the regional council, as saying. “We must have military officers and experts who know and understand our people.”
The exiled leaders said that they would need local on-the-ground support to get rid of IS militants once and for all. “The people of Mosul must feel like they are being liberated and governed by people from Mosul,” Mr Mahmoud said.
The militia would be recruited from tens of thousands of people displaced from Mosul who, like the leaders, have been exiled to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Along with plans for retaking the city, they also plan to recruit experts to help rehabilitate and run it afterward. They have been in discussions with teachers, doctors and others, the report said.
An Iraqi Kurd from the Mosul council, Hashim Brifkany, told The National that they intend to present their plan to Iraq's government in Baghdad.
“These people are skilled and ready to help us run the area,” said Hashim Brifkany, a Kurdish member of Mosul’s 39-member council who is involved in the effort.
However the leaders are divided over the plans, with infighting between members, and there are no guarantees that they will secure the crucial backing of tribes in the mostly Sunni area, although Mosul council members told The National that tribesmen have said they would back the local force.