According to Pentagon spokesman Col. Chris Garver, the US believes morale among ISIS forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul is dramatically worsening, which they attributed to a “sign of frustration” as Iraqi ground troops edge closer to the city.
Iraq has made some territorial gains south of Mosul in recent weeks, but has no timetable for attacking the city itself. So far, those gains have come against territory ISIS was simply not defending, and US officials have previously expressed doubt that Iraqi troops have the logistics capability to keep troops in supply that far north.
Still, Col. Garver likened the situation to those in Ramadi and Fallujah, two ISIS-held cities which have fallen to the Iraqi military over the last year. Both cities suffered heavy damage, but Garver is suggesting that the ISIS commanders’ cutting off of Internet access and disciplining troops mirrors what happened in those cities.
Ramadi and Fallujah, however, are extremely close to Baghdad, which meant the Iraqi military didn’t need very long supply lines to surround and ultimately capture (or in the case of Ramadi, virtually destroy) those cities. Mosul, by contrast, is far away, and closer to ISIS territory in Syria, from which they will undoubtedly draw reinforcements.
It is unclear from Garver’s comments in what way the Pentagon actually measures morale among ISIS forces, and there is thus doubt about the accuracy of the estimate, particularly with US officials in Iraq having such a long track record of unwarranted optimism.
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