BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called another meeting of his war council Thursday to discuss plans for a "decisive battle" against Al-Qaeda in the northern city of Mosul, his office said.
The meeting in Baghdad was attended by Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, the interior and defence ministers, the governor of Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital, and "some military leaders," a statement said.
On January 25, Maliki promised a "decisive battle" against Al-Qaeda in Iraq after dozens of people including a police chief were killed in Mosul bombings.
Last Saturday he called a meeting in Mosul of his crisis cell, which was also attended by the commander of US forces in Iraq, General David Petreaus, and warned afterwards of an imminent assault on the jihadists in Nineveh.
Thursday's meeting, the statement said, was part of preparations "for a decisive battle against terrorism in Nineveh."
On Saturday, Nineveh Governor Duraid Kashmoula told reporters in Mosul, the last urban bastion of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, that the assault would start "in a few days."
Residents of the city, 370 kilometres (225 miles) north of Baghdad, have for the past two weeks been stocking up with supplies in anticipation of the battle, traders say.
The ethnically diverse city has been rocked by violence in recent weeks, including a powerful blast that killed up to 60 people when a cache of munitions stored by insurgents blew up in a building in the Zanjili suburb.
A suicide bomber killed provincial police chief Brigadier General Salah al-Juburi and two other officers the next day when they went to inspect the carnage.
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