BERLIN: The EU’s security commissioner warned Tuesday that Europe must be prepared for a new influx of ISIS extremists if Iraqi forces retake the group’s stronghold of Mosul.
“The retaking of the ISIS’ northern Iraq stronghold, Mosul, may lead to the return to Europe of violent ISIS-fighters,” Julian King told Die Welt daily in remarks published in German.
He said even a handful of extremists returning would pose a “serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for”.
Iraqi forces are advancing in an offensive aimed at retaking Mosul and dealing a death blow to the ISIS group’s “caliphate” in the city where it was declared two years ago.
Some 30,000 federal forces are leading the offensive, backed by air and ground support from a 60-nation U.S.-led coalition, in what is expected to be a long and difficult assault on ISIS’ last major Iraqi stronghold.
The extremists have suffered a string of territorial defeats this year in both countries, and the retaking of Mosul would all but end their presence in Iraq as a land-holding force.