September 15, 2014 / 4:21 PM / 5 years ago

Iraqi FM: military operation to retake Mosul 'shouldn't take too long'

PARIS (Reuters) - Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Monday he was confident the military operation to retake Mosul would not take too long given Islamic State militants were not entrenched in the city.

“Thanks to the operations we are going to conduct, I think it won’t be very difficult to retake Mosul,” Jaafari told reporters after a conference in Paris on the crisis in his country. “I think it won’t be difficult to liberate Mosul in the medium term.”

Islamic State took the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit in June and announced an Islamic Caliphate in areas it controls.

The U.S. military has previously expressed skepticism about the Iraqi government’s ability to retake places like Mosul quickly. A French official after the conference said in all likelihood Sunnis from the north would be needed to regain territory in the area.

The Iraqi military’s five northern divisions have been depleted and would be heavily reliant on Shi’ite militias, which could prompt a backlash against Baghdad.

Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur and John Irish; Editing by James Regan

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