From the beginning of the Iraqi invasion of the ISIS-held city of Mosul, US and Iraqi officials have repeatedly issued upbeat assessments, claiming the offensive is going at either the planned pace, or even slightly ahead of schedule, trying to present the offensive as having a certain level of ineivtability.
With early fighting centering on mostly empty villages, however, it’s hard to imagine the offensive going anything but smoothly so far, and US officials are conceding that as they get closer to the city, ISIS is digging in, and the fighting is going to get alot uglier, and deadlier, when they actually reach the city.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said the resistance so far was “pretty significant” and that there had been indirect fire and IEDs. That’s going to seem a lot less significant by comparison when the troops reach the city, with thousands of ISIS fighters positioned.
ISIS spent the last few months building defenses around Mosul, from oil-filled moats and walls to tunnels and booby traps. The early offensive saw ISIS burning tires around the city to create smoke, limiting visibility for warplanes, and further complicating the offensive.
The American public hasn’t exactly been prepared for the number of US combat casualties this could mean, with the first death already happening to an IED north of Mosul, and officials trying desperately to downplay the number of US troops engaged in “advisory” roles that are, for all intents and purposes, front line combat.