US military 'begins shelling' ISIL in Mosul
ISTANBULThe U.S. military deployed to the east of Iraq’s Mosul has started shelling Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets as part of an operation to retake the city, a Peshmerga commander said on Oct. 15, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Peshmerga Commander Omer Huseyin told the agency that American howitzers, deployed some 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) away from Mosul city center, were hitting ISIL targets.
Huseyin said the U.S.-led coalition warplanes also hit areas where ISIL militants were positioned.
"The Daesh [ISIL] terrorists started burning tires to block the view of the warplanes after international coalition forces struck the area," he added.
"Daesh terrorists also started burning the petroleum filled in their ditches, which they have dug around the city."
Meanwhile, earlier reports had suggested that the grand operation to retake Mosul from ISIL begun late on Oct. 15.
Both Pentagon and the U.S. Central Command stated such operation had not begun yet, as reported by the Anadolu Agency.
In addition, Turkish Prime Ministry sources also said there was no Turkish military presence in the operation yet, private broadcaster CNN Türk reported.
According to sources, Ankara also warned Washington of Shia forces to not to enter the region, saying that it would trigger a sectarian war which would last for hundred years.
The U.S. and French jets were also bombing ISIL targets in the east of Mosul, according to private broadcaster NTV.
The attacks late on Oct. 15 were steps to increase military build-up and narrow the circle down ahead of a ground offensive, the channel said quoting security sources.
In mid-2014, ISIL captured the northern city of Mosul and overran vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq. It remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.
The Iraqi army and its allies are now gradually advancing on Mosul, which officials in Baghdad have vowed to "liberate" by year’s end.