Iraqi Commander: Mosul Offensive Could Take Months

Insists Slow Offensive Is Because of Fear of Civilian Casualties

by Jason Ditz, November 15, 2016

Iraqi officials have been exclusively upbeat in comments on the invasion of the ISIS city of Mosul, repeatedly insisting the fight is going extremely well and “ahead of schedule.” Top commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahaib al-Saadi however, conceded what others have been saying for awhile, the offensive is liable to take months.

The general sought to try to put a positive spin on the reality of an excruciatingly long invasion of one of the largest cities in Iraq, saying it’s going to take so long because Iraq is so careful about not wanting to kill civilians, and because ISIS is putting civilians in harm’s way.

The reality, however, is that the offensive slowed dramatically as soon as the Iraqi Army started running into serious resistance, and any expectation of a quick victory was based on a relatively brisk pace Iraqi forces were keeping up moving through empty desert and ghost towns outside of metro Mosul.

Other reports, though from much lower-ranked military officials, have described the Iraqi military struggling to keep what territory it has already gained near Mosul in the face of “waves” of ISIS fighters. Tank units have been forced to abandon their tanks because of barricades in the way, and are now fighting urban battles with ISIS fighters who are a lot more experienced at that sort of thing.

Indeed, “months” was always the timetable to hear Kurdish officials tell the story, and the Iraqi military only reached the city limits in one small instance because ISIS provided a path as part of a concerted effort to spread the invading forces thin.

The ISIS tunnel networks are even worse than expected, and Kurdish Peshmerga have suggested they’ve advanced as far as they are going to, leaving Iraq’s military with a long, difficult fight ahead of them.

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