Two More Years to Clear ISIS from Mosul, Raqqa:? US Commander
It will take two more years of hard work to clear ISIS from its strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa and kill or capture those who attempt to escape into the desert between Syria and Iraq, the US commander in Iraq says.
Speaking with media in Baghdad, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said the ongoing campaign, though it is proceeding slowly, is unfolding about as well as can be expected.
When the Mosul offensive was launched in October, some Iraqi officials said they hoped to have the city cleared by the end of the year, while more "conservative" voices said it would take at least three to four months of street to street fighting. However, with US officials estimating last year that the fight oust ISIS would take three years, Townsend's schedule remains roughly on track.
Townsend refused to put an exact timeline on the battle, but he did stress the time ISIS has had to dig in, as well as the brutality of the tactics US troops and their coalition partners are faced with. "A fighter walking out of a building will hold a child over his head so we can see him until he reaches another building," he said.
The realities of battle are also catching up to all involved. Iraqi forces, despite assuring the media that the Mosul assault would not stop, have had to pause over the past week to resupply and take stock of the fight, in which Townsend reports they are sometimes seeing casualty rates as high as 30%. "People need to rest. They need to assess how things are going because they are not going as fast as we thought," he told The Daily Beast.
Townsend also had rare praise for some of the more controversial members of the coalition of Iraqi forces. A new Iraqi law will this week legalize the militia forces � some of which have been accused of war crimes in past fights � involved in the Mosul battle, Sputnik reported.
Source: Al-Alam News Network