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France's Hollande Warns IS Mosul Militants Fleeing To Syria

French President Francois Hollande

French President Francois Hollande says there is evidence that Islamic State (IS) militants are fleeing Mosul to Syria, amid a massive operation to oust the extremist group from the northern Iraqi city entered its fourth day.

Addressing an international meeting in Paris on the future of Mosul, Hollande said on October 20 that everything needed to be done to stop the militants regrouping in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

"We can't afford mistakes in the pursuit of the terrorists who are already leaving Mosul for Raqqa," he said.

There are thought to be up to 4,500 IS fighters in Iraq's second-largest city, which IS militants have been holding since June 2014.

On October 19, a top U.S. commander in Iraq, Major General Gary Volesky said, said there were "indications that [IS] leaders have left" Mosul.

The chief of the Russian military's General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, earlier argued it was "necessary not to drive terrorists from one country to the other but to destroy them on the spot."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP