Iraq’s Stalled Mosul Push Rests on Hopes of Sudden ISIS Collapse

US Concedes Fighting Is 'Very Hard' Right Now

While officials continue to try to keep up the pretense of being upbeat about the invasion of Mosul, the claims are falling flat amid signs that the force of some 50,000 troops is bogged down, with only the special forces managing to get into the city, and the rest still quite a distance outside.

That’s not to say that they’re planning on shifting tactics away from just throwing troops en masse at the city, in the hopes of them breaking through and winning. The comments today from both US and Iraqi officials suggest they’re still hanging on to the idea that things will get better.

Col. John Dorrian, the US spokesman for the “coalition” forces involved in Mosul, conceded the fighting is “very hard,” conceding ISIS has built “very elaborate defenses” to resist the offensive. At the same time, he insisted things would get better at some unspecified time in the future.

As for how, Dorrian insisted that the Iraqi forces stalled outside the city would at some point finally push through the ISIS defenses and then ISIS would have to fall back, allowing the fighting to go quite a bit quicker.

Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi was even less clear about the “how” of things getting better in the offensive, saying he just hopes that at some point ISIS defenses will collapse outright and Iraqi troops will then simply win.

As the offensive stalls, the indications are that a lot of the planning stage of invading Mosul was itself resting on wishful thinking, with almost none of the troops being prepared for urban combat in invading a city of over a million people, and tank brigades finding that they can’t actual drive their tanks into the city over barricades and having to continue on foot.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of