Iraqis Taking Ground from ISIL Around Mosul, Officials Say
As of yesterday, Iraqi forces have taken an estimated 800 square kilometers from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the battle for the city that began Oct. 17, U.S. officials told reporters today at a Pentagon briefing.
Speaking on background, they said the battle to retake Mosul from ISIL has seen good initial gains and is proceeding as planned, as U.S. advisers continue to be embedded with Iraqi forces, providing advice behind the frontlines from mobile headquarters that move as the frontlines shift.
Whether directly or indirectly, the vast majority of the thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq are supporting the effort to retake Mosul, they said.
Progress Expected to Slow Closer to Mosul
The operation will move at the pace of forces on the ground, the officials said, and fighting is expected to intensify as the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga forces move closer to the dense, urban environment of Mosul where they will be dealing with the complexities of a crowded, urban environment and a substantial defense from the enemy.
Mosul is the most heavily defended city in Iraq, the officials explained, with obstacles including t-walls, berms, trenches and fields of improvised explosive devices.
ISIL is ceding territory as the counter-ISIL forces continue their advance toward Mosul, the officials noted, and is expected to try to divert attention away from its movements, with those tactics already including suicide attacks, vehicle bombs and deliberately set structure fires.
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