BAGHDAD Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi expressed confidence in victory, in his first message after U.S.-backed Iraqi forces started an offensive to take back Mosul, the last major city under control of his group in Iraq."This (..) total war and the great jihad that the state of Islamic is fighting today only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory," he said in an audio recording released online on Thursday by supporters.
He called on the population of Mosul's Nineveh province to fight the "enemies of God" and for the suicide fighters to "turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, to wreck havoc in their land and make their blood flow as rivers."
(Reporting by Mostafa Hashem and Maher Chmaytelli)
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