While all indications are that the offensive against the ISIS city of Mosul has ground to a near halt, and there are at least multiple more months of fighting to come in that city, Iraqi officials are already looking past the battle, seeing victory as inevitable.
Not that they expect peace, of course. Rather, officials are envisioning a dramatic difference in the nature of the ISIS war as soon as Mosul falls, with ISIS shifting away from its current operations and back toward the landless insurgency that it was for years before it started taking over cities.
The officials are saying that they will be moving away from major ground offensives against ISIS and focusing on airstrikes and intelligence work to try to undermine the group’s continuing operations, with the top priority being tracking the ISIS fighters who will eventually escape Mosul.
This of course recognizes that despite having “surrounded” Mosul so there would be no escape, there will eventually be a lot of escape, and even that rests of the assumption that Iraq eventually captures the city, which is likely to take a long time and a lot of additional fighting.
It also puts Iraq back in the position of fighting an ISIS insurgency who they failed so disastrously to cope with last time that the group ended up capturing almost half the country, with no signs the Iraqi government has learned anything or has any ideas on how to do better this time.
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