October 18, 2016

Cardin Statement on the Start of Anti-ISIL Military Operations in Mosul

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, released the following statement regarding Iraqi action against ISIL in their second-largest city, Mosul. 

“I welcome Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s announcement that military operations have commenced to retake Mosul from ISIL. U.S. and Coalition support has been critical for the planning and preparations for this operation, but ultimately the battle to retake Mosul must be Iraqi-led and Iraqi won.  

“The manner in which ISIL is expelled from Mosul is as important as its defeat.  It is absolutely critical that Iraqi Security Forces, Kurdish Peshmerga forces, tribal fighters, and all local forces refrain from sectarian reprisal violence, ensure protection for innocent civilians, and prioritize humanitarian relief. There are an estimated 1.2 million civilians trapped in Mosul who have lived under ISIL’s brutal reign. These civilians are at risk of being caught in crossfire and thousands may be trapped between fighting lines. They must be allowed safe exit from Mosul and have immediate access to humanitarian assistance. 

“Protection of civilians is key in the battle to liberate Mosul. I will be closely monitoring the humanitarian relief and response put into place by the Government of Iraq with support from the United Nations, the U.S., and the international donor community. Children, women, the elderly and the disabled will be especially vulnerable to harm.  

“Of particular concern are the fate of over 1500 Yazidi women and girls, abducted and held as prisoners by ISIL in Mosul. If these victims are not properly screened, they may be forced to flee the city with their captors and will never to be located and reunited with their families and larger community. 

“After ISIL is ejected from Mosul, I strongly urge the Iraqi government, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and provincial leaders to work together and to closely collaborate with the international community. Stabilization and reconstruction funding and programs must be readily available. Security forces left in Mosul to hold the area and provide security for its citizens must gain the confidence of the local population and be prepared for combat a post-conflict counter-insurgency from the remnants of ISIL. Post-ISIL governance in Mosul must reflect the diverse make-up of the city and demonstrate a commitment to responsive, inclusive policies.  

“Ultimately, winning the peace will be the longer term battle. Iraq’s leaders – in Baghdad, Erbil, and elsewhere - must commit to reconciliation and an inclusive, representative agenda or face the prospect of persistent instability.”  

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