World

IS fighters from Mosul may head to Europe, top security official says

Islamic State (IS) militants captured the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014

Liberating Mosul from Islamic State could cause a surge of IS fighters into Europe, it has been warned. The European Union's security commissioner Julian King said: "The reconquest of the northern Iraqi IS stronghold Mosul can cause violent IS fighters to come back to Europe. This is a very serious threat that we have to prepare for," he told German newspaper Die Welt. Mr King said more than 2,500 people have travelled from European countries to Islamic State regions to fight and that some of them could return. The security official said that while he did not believe there will be an "exodus" of fighters arriving in Europe, "even a small number represents a serious threat".

This is a very serious threat that we have to prepare for.

European Union's security commissioner Julian King

He called for discussions on the security of identity documents including birth and marriage certificates, as well as passports. It would also mean a broader computer database that would make it easier for border officials to search. His comments came as Germany's interior minister rejected any suggestion that efforts to combat IS in Iraq and Syria would increase the likelihood of attacks on European soil. Thomas de Maiziere admitted that authorities expect IS fighters originally from Europe to attempt to return as the group come under further pressure - but he said work is ongoing to minimise the threat. Speaking in Berlin, he told the media that he felt there was no "additional threat to Germany from the fight against IS," and said that "the threat is already high and it's right that we should combat IS militarily".

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5,000

FIGHTERS

Mosul

As many as 5,000 IS fighters are believed to remain in the city

Mosul

Mosul is a city of normally about two and a half million people(2014 est.) in northern Iraq, occupied since 10 June 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL).Located some 400 km north of Baghdad, the original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the"Left Coast"(east side) and the"Right Coast"(west side) as the two banks are described in the local language.At the start of the 21st century, the majority of Mosul's population was Arab with Assyrians, Armenian, Turkmen, Kurdish, Yazidi, Shabaki, Mandeans and other minorities.

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