So-called Islamic State has released an audiotape purportedly from the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urging its supporters not to retreat as Iraqi forces advance on the city of Mosul.
The recording has not been verified yet but analysts believe it is genuine.
Baghdadi’s whereabouts are unknown. Some officials have said he may be inside Mosul alongside IS fighters.
It comes two weeks after the launch of a major offensive to retake the last major IS urban stronghold in Iraq.
Some 50,000 members of the Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia Muslim militiamen are involved in the operation, which is backed by US-led coalition air strikes.
They have already retaken dozens of villages and towns surrounding Mosul, and on Thursday pushed further into the city’s eastern outskirts.(BBC,2015)