Special to WorldTribune.com
French President Francois Hollande says there is evidence that Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants are fleeing Mosul to Syria, amid a massive operation to oust the extremist group from the northern Iraqi city entered its fourth day.
Addressing an international meeting in Paris on the future of Mosul, Hollande said on October 20 that everything needed to be done to stop the militants regrouping in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
“We can’t afford mistakes in the pursuit of the terrorists who are already leaving Mosul for Raqqa,” he said.
There are thought to be up to 4,500 IS fighters in Iraq’s second-largest city, which ISIL militants have been holding since June 2014.
On October 19, a top U.S. commander in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky said, said there were “indications that [ISIL] leaders have left” Mosul.[“They’re already moving, we’ve got indications of that, so I expect there will be a foreign fighter presence that will stay,” Volesky told NBC News.]
The chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, earlier argued it was “necessary not to drive terrorists from one country to the other but to destroy them on the spot.”