At the beginning of the month, Iraqi officials were bragging about their substantial military gains against ISIS, saying that ISIS held less than 10 percent of the Old City area of Mosul, which is about 30 square km in size. Today, Iraqi special forces declared their mission accomplished, noting ISIS now controls only 8 square km of the Old City, which is more than 25%.
This has been a recurring problem for Iraq, which has been anticipating declaring outright “victory” over ISIS in Mosul since December of last year, and keeps projecting the “end of the month” every time a new month starts and ISIS still remains in the city.
Special forces said their mission was to take the “last western districts” in Mosul away from ISIS, and they believe they’ve done so, despite ISIS still having substantial territory in the western half of the city. Indeed, while Iraqi claims of how much territory ISIS has aren’t really reliable, they don’t appear to be shrinking.
This comes amid a soaring civilian death toll in the Old City, and the US appears keen to get even more deeply involved with talk of deeper escalation in the fight against ISIS, and Defense Secretary James Mattis vowing to “annihilate” ISIS’s entire membership so no one returns to their nations of origin.