Operation in Mosul Will Be Starts in Coming Days: US Commander Says

Mon Dec 26, 2016 15:23:46

Iraqi forces will resume their push against ISIS inside Mosul in the coming days, a senior Lieutenant Colonel Stuart James, commander of a combat arms battalion assisting Iraqi security forces on the southeastern front of Mosul told on Sunday , in a new phase of the two-month-old operation that will see US troops deployed closer to the frontline inside the city.

Alalam - Iraq

Elite Iraqi soldiers have retaken a quarter of Mosul, the Terrorists’ last major stronghold in Iraq, but their advance become slow. They entered a planned operational refit this month, the first significant pause of the campaign, Reuters reports.

Several thousand heavily armoured federal police were also redeployed from the southern outskirts two weeks ago to reinforce the eastern front after an army division advised by the Americans suffered heavy losses in an Islamic State counter-attack.

US advisers, will work directly with those forces and the rapid response division, an elite Interior Ministry strike force.

"Right now we're staging really for the next phase of the attack as we start the penetration into the interior of east Mosul," said Lieutenant Colonel Stuart James, commander of a combat arms battalion assisting Iraqi security forces on the southeastern front.

"So right now, positioning forces and positioning men and equipment into the interior of east Mosul... it's going to happen in the next several days," he added.

That will put US troops inside of Mosul proper and at greater risk, James said the danger level was still characterized as "moderate".

Further integration into the Iraqi troops will help synchronize surveillance, air support and force movement, according to James. "It increases our situational understanding. The man on the ground knows what's going on best," he said.

Mosul, an ancient city where up to 1.5 million people are thought to still be living, is divided roughly in half by the Tigris River.

The western section, which Iraqi forces have yet to penetrate, has built-up markets and narrow alleyways dating back more than two millennia which will complicate future advances..

James, speaking from an austere outpost east of Mosul where several hundred U.S. troops are stationed, said the pace of the upcoming phase on the eastern side would depend on resistance from Islamic State, also known in Arabic as Daesh.

"If we achieve great success on the first day and we gain momentum, then it may go very quickly. If Daesh fights very hard the first day and we run into a roadblock and we have to go back and go OK that was not the correct point of penetration, it may take longer," he said.

Inclement weather has repeatedly delayed ground advances which rely heavily on aerial surveillance and air strikes.


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