Top U.S. General: Iraq ‘on Track’ to Retake Mosul from Islamic State

IRAQ, Baghdad : Members of the "Golden Division", the special forces of the Iraqi counter-terrorism forces (ICTF), take part in a training under the command of international military instructors in Baghdad on March 20, 2016, as they preparare for a future operation aimed at retaking the northern city of Mosul, …

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The top commander of America’s military efforts against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria has predicted that the U.S.-backed Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are “on track” to recapture the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, considered to be the jihadist group’s largest remaining stronghold in the country, “by the end of the year.”

If Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi follows the U.S.-backed plans in place, Iraq will succeed in taking back Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, suggested Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees the U.S. military in the Middle East.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters, Gen. Votel said:

[W]ith respect to Mosul, you know I think as the Prime Minister has said, it’s his intention to try to get through Mosul by the end of the year.

My assessment… I think is that they are on track to achieve that objective. They own the timeline here for this, and so we’ll continue to work very, very closely with them and insure that we can support their operations when their ready to go. But I think we are proceeding a pace exactly where we hope to be at this particular time…

My assessment is that… we can meet the prime minister’s objectives if that’s what he chooses to do.

Momentum against ISIS has increased as the jihadi group loses territory in its self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria nearly two years after the terrorists seized large swathes of territory there, noted Votel.

“We’ve got good momentum going against ISIL and I think we need to continue to emphasize that aspect of it,” declared the top U.S. commander.

Gen. Votel’s comments come nearly a month after Brett McGurk, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the anti-ISIS alliance led by the United States, declared that nearly all the pieces had fallen into place earlier than expected for the Iraqi troops to make a push to recapture Mosul.

Nevertheless, McGurk did acknowledge that the city is “one of the most complex challenges ahead of us.”

“It is where we will put one of the nails into the coffin of that phony Caliphate,” he said in July.

Gen. Votel indicated that the fight for Mosul could present a mixed picture for war planners, points out Reuters.

“We should expect that in some places, perhaps in some parts of Mosul, they will cede that area to us, or to the coalition, to the Iraqis, and then in other areas they will fight harder to hold onto that and I think that’s what we’re going to see going forward here,” he explained.

“ISIL is having to make hard decisions, because they’re being pressured in a variety of ways,” he also said.

Votel’s predictions regarding Mosul echo comments made late last month by Assyrian Christian Army Cmdr. Emmanuel Khoshaba Youkhana during an exclusive interview with Breitbart News.

The Assyrian Christian commander of the army known as Dwekh Nawsha (self-sacrifice), which has been fighting ISIS in northern Iraq, told Breitbart News that he expects the Iraqi military to push ISIS out of Mosul, but warned that the terrorist group’s ideology and ability to inspire attacks will remain a problem.

Gen. Votel’s remarks about momentum shifting against ISIS are consistent with what Breitbart News learned in May from Maj. Gen. Najm Abdullah al-Jubbouri, the Iraqi commander in charge of the planned offensive to retake Mosul.

The Iraqi general told Breitbart News that ISIS was losing strength, noting that the jihadi group was “weaker thanks to U.S. airstrikes on its infrastructure, which has depleted their finances and taken out many of their leaders.”

“They’re more limited,” added Gen. Jubbouri.

Mosul is considered the last and largest urban stronghold in Iraq under ISIS’s control.

Iraqi PM Abadi wants to kick start the Mosul campaign in October, reports Reuters.

However, it adds that Iraqi and U.S. officials have not officially announced a timetable for the offensive.


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