EU commissioner warns of militant influx following Mosul operation

EU commissioner warns of militant influx following Mosul operation
Julian King says the fall of the IS group's last Iraqi bastion could entail a "serious threat" to Europe's security.
1 min read
18 October, 2016
Julian King says even a handful of returning extremists would pose a "serious threat" [AFP]

The EU's security commissioner warned Europe on Tuesday to prepare for an influx of Islamic State [IS] group militants if the group is dislodged from its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul.

"The retaking of the IS' northern Iraq stronghold, Mosul, may lead to the return to Europe of violent IS fighters," Julian King told German daily Die Welt.

The British diplomat said that even a handful of militants returning would pose a "serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for".

King's remarks come as Iraqi government forces are advancing on Mosul with the aim of dealing the group a lethal blow in the city where their 'caliphate' was established in 2014.

The offensive is led by some 30,000 of Iraq's federal forces, backed by air and ground support from a 60-nation US-led coalition. A long and difficult campaign is expected.

On Monday, Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi announced the launch of the military offensive after months of anticipation.

The first day of the offensive left at least 60 IS fighters dead, sources told The New Arab.

The group also lost nearly 60 percent of its rocket launchers and land mines around Mosul in coalition airstrikes and shelling, according to military sources from the Nineveh liberation operations room.