In a statement delivered today, American Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the command of US-led coalition forces in the area, suggested that the ongoing invasion of the major northern Iraqi city of Msoul will take “weeks, possibly longer,” and that there isn’t a specific timetable for victory.
Lt. Gen. Townsend insisted the US “can’t predict how long it will take for the Iraqi security forces” to occupy the city, but said he is fully confident they will succeed, citing recent gains in much smaller cities like Qayara and Sharqat.
Townsend insisted all of the forces involved in the fighting in Mosul would be “Iraqi,” though a substantial number of US troops are embedded in these forces. US artillery has shelled ISIS targets in the city, and US warplanes are active overhead.
A long battle is likely to fuel a massive humanitarian crisis around the city, with warnings that a million people could be displaced by the fighting, and that little to no effort is being made to accommodate all those people. This echos other recent Iraqi offensives, in which the Sunni Arab population was left to fend for themselves in the best case, and overtly persecuted at times for being caught fleeing a formerly ISIS city.