Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited northern Iraq today, talking up the “historic necessity” of the ongoing military operation aimed to take over the city of Mosul, and expressing confidence that the Iraqi military, backed by US troops, will eventually prevail.
Carter said he wanted to get the city taken “as soon as possible,” but conceded that it’s going to be a tough fight, and that there is no timetable for actually taking over the city, comments in stark contrast to a US general’s comments the day prior, insisting Iraq is continuing a “high tempo” advance.
In reality, of course, Iraq’s military hasn’t made any territorial gains in Mosul in days, despite heavy fighting, and the one group of Iraqi troops that’s really operating within Mosul, the “Golden Brigade” special forces, are facing soaring casualty rates which risk derailing their operation.
Iraqi officials had hoped to have Mosul taken by year’s end initially, according to some comments made at the time the invasion began, and while the Abadi government eventually conceded they also saw a possibility of it taking several months more, it’s not clear how well the military will be able to adapt to several months of intense urban combat, particularly as the only brigade they have really trained and equipped for it is folding under 50% casualty rates.
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