On Monday pro-Iraqi government forces converged on Mosul to retake it from IS, which took the city from the Iraqi Army in 2014.
UUP MLA Doug Beattie, who also won the Military Cross for service in Afghanistan, told the News Letter: “The battle to retake Mosul in Iraq is a defining moment and if successful will unhinge IS and drive them out of their last stronghold and out of the country.
“Defeating IS in Iraq helps build momentum in defeating IS strategically and eroding their ideology. Western forces helped training the Iraq forces but this is an Iraqi operation and I hope they take all precautions to minimise civilian casualties.”
Mr Beattie, 50, has deep knowledge of the British Army, having served for 34 years.
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In January 2015 one of Northern Ireland’s top Muslim figures apologised after saying the extremist group IS had turned his home city of Mosul “the most peaceful city in the world”,
Dr Raied Al-Wazzan said he was wrong to have made the claim and apologised for the offence he had caused.
IS came to widespread public attention for its extreme persecution of minority religious groups, executions, crucifixions, rape and the enslavement of prisoners.