Likely a function of previous talk about getting the American public to recognize that they have an actual strategy in the ISIS war, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other Pentagon officials laid out an ambitious series of plans for 2016, including capturing Raqqa and Mosul, ISIS’ largest two remaining cities.
Carter bragged about how well the ISIS campaign is going, claiming his statement today was the completion of a “military plan” to retake Mosul and Raqqa, saying Kurdish forces in both Iraq and Syria would encircle those cities.
Carter insisted he has “big arrows” pointing at those cities, but also talked up other plans, including widespread assassinations of ISIS leaders, and a significant escalation of the US drone wars against Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, with drone strikes in those countries extending “beyond declared battlefields.”
While escalations for their own sake are a given in any year, the plans to capture both major ISIS cities seem enormously optimistic, as it took seven months for Iraq to reclaim Ramadi, which was just a stone’s throw from Baghdad, and both Raqqa and Mosul are deep in ISIS territory, and heavily defended.
Mosul in particular has been seen as the main goal of the war for over a year now, and Iraqi officials were trumpeting a “January offensive” against Mosul way back around the end of 2014. Despite this, they’ve never really gotten close to the city.
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