In his first news conference today on the new US conflict, Centcom chief General Lloyd Austin claimed Iraq is “incrementally recapturing” territory it lost to ISIS, saying it showed the US strikes are having an impact on the ground.
Gen. Austin’s example was the retaking of the Mosul Dam, which happened almost two months ago, and which involved Kurdish, not Iraqi, troops. US officials have been hyping this success since mid-August.
Absent from Austin’s assessment of the “recaptured” ground is that since retaking that dam, the Iraqi government has lost numerous towns to ISIS advances, particularly in the Anbar Province, where they’ve also lost several forward operating bases.
The value of the Mosul Dam is undeniable, but the Pentagon is playing fast and loose with the facts to claim that the retaking of that two months ago is vindication for their current war strategy, or that it suggests a momentum shift in the conflict.