US officials are confirming that they have greatly accelerated their planning to retake Mosul, and that they could orchestrate an attack on the city as soon as January.
The plan such as it is, is to assemble “about 1,000 troops” to attack the city of nearly two million people, under the assumption that if they attack the north and south of the city at once, they’ll be able to oust the ISIS fighters.
Nineveh Provincial Governor Atheel Nijaifi, whose office in Mosul was sacked by ISIS months ago, says he believes it “will be easy to free Mosul” and that ISIS won’t put up serious resistance.
ISIS is believed to have some 5,000 fighters in Mosul, and about 20,000 across the Nineveh Province, by the governor’s reckoning. They routed a dramatically larger Iraqi military force back in the summer.
US officials aren’t saying how they imagine a much, much smaller group of Iraqi military forces will be able to retake Mosul when they couldn’t defend it in the first place, though they did say that the plans are merely contingency plans that could be revised (read: scrapped) at any time.