US Envoy Claims Capture of Mosul ‘Now in Sight’

Pentagon Has Downplayed Chances of Iraq Taking Major City

Speaking to a group of coalition defense and foreign ministers today, US special envoy to the ISIS War Brett McGurk claimed that the “liberation of Mosul is now in sight,” the first time a US official has suggested that the recapture of the major northern Iraqi city might be imminent.

It comes after recent US escalations in Iraq to build up the Qayara Airbase, south of Mosul, which is seen as a likely launchpad for the offensive. Repairing the base could take some time, since the US had been bombing it off and on for two years.

McGurk’s comment, then, is in keeping with Iraq’s intention to escalate its presence around Mosul, but is the exact opposite of what Pentagon officials have been saying all summer. US military officials have repeatedly said the Iraqi military is nowhere near ready to try to take Mosul from ISIS, and lacks the logistics capability to even reliably get troops up that far north.

Iraq tried to take some villages not far from Mosul earlier this year, and only seemed to ever take villages that ISIS had no fighters in. Even then, the troops often ran short on supplies and many deserted. While the capture of Qayara, a bit farther south, is of some use, it too came without any resistance from ISIS, and so long as ISIS has fighters in Mosul, by far its largest city, Iraq can’t count on walking in uncontested.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of

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  • curmudgeonvt

    It’s no surprise McGurk is saying stuff like this: from his wiki entry:

    “a Legal Advisor to both the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the United States Ambassador in Baghdad.
    During his tenure in Baghdad, McGurk helped draft Iraq’s interim
    constitution, the Transitional Administrative Law, and oversaw the legal
    transition from the CPA to an Interim Iraqi Government led by Prime
    Minister Ayad Allawi. In 2005, he was transferred to the National Security Council,
    where he served as Director for Iraq, and later as Special Assistant to
    the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2006,
    McGurk became an early advocate for a fundamental change in Iraq policy
    and helped develop what is now known as the surge, which began in
    January 2007. In his Book Decision Points, President George W. Bush
    refers to McGurk as part of his “personal band of warriors” that led to a
    new strategy and reset the trajectory of the war.”

    He’s one of those responsible for the creation of ISIS.

  • dieter heymann

    Mosul appears to be the Atlanta of Iraq. Must be taken before the elections.

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