Special to WorldTribune.com
The leader of the Islamic State extremist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has called on his fighters to resist as Iraqi forces enter the city of Mosul where he declared a “caliphate” two years ago.
“Do not retreat,” said a voice presented as Baghdadi’s in an audio message released on November 3 by IS’s media outlet Al-Furqan.
“Holding your ground with honor is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame,” Baghdadi said, in his first message in more than a year.
“To all the people of Nineveh, especially the fighters, beware of any weakness in facing your enemy,” Baghdadi said, urging suicide fighters to “wreak havoc in their land and make their blood flow as rivers.”
In June 2014, after IS took control of about one-third of Iraq, Baghdadi made a rare public appearance in Mosul and announced the creation of an Islamic “state” straddling Iraq and Syria.
Since that time, IS territory has shrunk sharply. Iraqi forces reached Mosul, the group’s last major stronghold in Iraq, this week.
The U.S.-led coalition fighting IS estimates it has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters left inside the city — a contingent outnumbered by the tens of thousands of Iraqi forces arrayed against them and backed by coalition warplanes.