Heavy Fighting as Iraq Tries to Resume Advance in Mosul

Special Forces Claim to Have Advanced Front Lines, Not Clear How Far

by Jason Ditz, December 29, 2016

After two weeks of not gaining an inch of territory in Mosul, Iraqi special forces have announced the resumption of their attempts to advance, claiming to have made some advances on two different fronts, though so far it isn’t clear how much territory it amounts to.

The two weeks have been presented by US officials as either a “pause” or a “refit,” needed to get Iraqi troops, suffering high casualties, ready to resume their advance. Iraqi officials never admitted to being completely paused anyhow, however, and some reports suggest they’re more just trying to get the momentum back after a couple of weeks of wasted effort.

Iraq is in its third month of invading Mosul, and controls only a small part of the northeast of the city, with ISIS controlling the bulk of the city, and also preventing troops from advancing around much of the surrounding area. Despite this, Iraqi officials say they think they can have ISIS totally wiped out outright in 3 months.

US officials are less optimistic, saying they think the overall defeat of ISIS could take another two years at least. Given how much troops are struggling to make real progress in Mosul, even that seems highly speculative, and the new offensive is the next in a long series of battles over Iraq’s second biggest city.

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