Mosul Battle: EU 'Should Prepare for Returning Jihadists'

تم نشره في Tue 18 October / Oct 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Kurdish fighters partaking in the Mosul Battle - (AFP)

The European Union should be prepared for returning jihadists if the so-called Islamic State (IS), referred to as Daesh or ISIS, is driven out of its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, the EU's security commissioner warns.

Julian King told Germany's Die Welt newspaper that even a small number of militants would pose "a serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for".

Iraqi forces launched what is expected to be a lengthy offensive on Monday. As many as 5 thousand ISIS fighters are believed to remain in Mosul.

Government troops, moving in from the south, are currently some 40km (24 miles) from the city, while Kurdish fighters are some 30km to the east.

Aid agencies are bracing themselves for what they say could be the largest man-made humanitarian crisis of recent times.

How big is the threat to Europe?

Julian King, a British diplomat recently made the EU's security commissioner, told Die Welt (in German) that the threat of Daesh fighters returning to Europe after the fall of Mosul was "very serious".

There were currently about 2,500 fighters from EU countries in the combat zones, he said.

However, he stressed that it was "very unlikely that there would be a mass exodus of ISIS fighters to Europe".

Similar cases in the past had shown, he said, that "only a few fighters come back".

"I don't want to talk the risk down," he added. "Even a small number constitutes a threat."

What is the latest on the offensive?

A coalition of some 34 thousand Iraqi security personnel, Kurdish fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen, and Shia paramilitary forces - backed by the US and other nations - took a string of villages and districts in the south and east of Mosul on day one of the offensive.