Europe braces for ISIL influx as battle for Mosul looms

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Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Kurdish forces advance toward Mosul on Oct. 18.

Kurdish forces advance toward Mosul on Oct. 18.
Kurdish forces advance toward Mosul on Oct. 18.

The European Union’s security commissioner has warned that the bloc should be prepared for an influx of militants if the Islamic State (IS) group is driven out of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Even a small number of militants would pose “a serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for,” said Julian King in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt newspaper published on October 18.

On October 17, more than 30,000 Iraqi security personnel, Kurdish fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen, and Shi’ite paramilitary forces — backed by U.S.-led coalition warplanes — began their advance on Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

The UN has warned that as many as 1 million people may be forced from their homes during the campaign, which is expected to continue for weeks, possibly longer.

King, a Briton, also said that some 2,500 IS fighters from what he called the combat areas were from EU member states.

In Berlin, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said efforts to combat the IS group in Iraq and Syria won’t increase the risk of attacks at home, noting that “the threat is already high.”

De Maiziere said authorities expect IS fighters from Europe to try to return as the group faces military setbacks, but that authorities are working to minimize security threats.

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