Erbil – Defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) in Mosul and securing the city will take weeks or longer, commander of the US-led coalition, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, said on Monday.
At midnight on Sunday, the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish Peshmerga launched the operation to take Mosul from ISIS.
“Earlier today, Iraqi Security Forces launched their counter-attack to liberate Mosul from ISIS. This operation to regain control of Iraq’s second-largest city will likely continue for weeks, possibly longer,” Townsend said.
“Iraq is supported by a wide range of coalition capabilities, including air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers. But to be clear, the thousands of ground combat forces who will liberate Mosul are all Iraqis,” he added.
The coalition commander pointed out that the battle for Mosul comes after more than two years of ISIS oppression in the city, “during which they committed horrible atrocities, brutalized the people and asserted the city was one of their twin capitals.”
“ISIS’ cruelty and reach has shown that they are not just a threat in Iraq and Syria, but to the region and the entire world,” Townsend emphasized.
“Over the course of these past two years, a coalition of more than 60 nations has united to defeat ISIS, he said. “We have conducted tens of thousands of precision strikes to support Iraqi operations, trained and equipped more than 54,000 Iraqi forces, and supported our Iraqi partners as they fought to liberate their country.”
Lt Gen Townsend said that he could not predict how long the battle for Mosul would take, but stressed that local forces and the coalition were well prepared.
Townsend concluded his remarks, saying: “This may prove to be a long and tough battle, but the Iraqis have prepared for it and we will stand by them.”
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