Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi (C) walks during his visit to the Nineveh Liberation Operations Command at Makhmour base, south of Mosul, Iraq, August 8, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer
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As Iraqi forces prepare to attack Daesh (ISIS) in its de facto capital of Mosul, residents inside the city and others who have managed to escape expressed relief at the prospect that their home could be liberated from the extremist group's harsh rule.With a population at one time as large as 2 million, Mosul is the largest urban center under the extremist militants' control.Many Daesh leaders have fled Mosul for Syria with their families ahead of the planned offensive, Iraq's Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said on July 30 .Younis said he paid a taxi driver $5,000 to help them flee Mosul via the Kurdish peshmerga lines east of the city, taking advantage of the confusion that ensued after advances made by the Kurdish and Iraqi forces in May.The former governor of Mosul, Atheel al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, told Reuters the local administration of the city should have more autonomy after the militants are dislodged. A police force reflective of the city's complex ethnic and religious makeup should be in charge of security, not the army, added Nujaifi, who leads a Sunni militia that plans to take part in the offensive on Mosul alongside the army.
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