There has been significant progress in the fight against ISIL on the ground. And the next big offensive is now underway – the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIL oppression.
The operation to regain control of Iraq’s second-largest city will take time. Iraq is supported by a wide range of coalition capabilities including air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers. The coalition has built a force of over 30,000 fighters for this operation, including Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi Security Forces, and some 14,000 local Nineveh fighters.
This liberation battle comes after more than two years of ISIL oppression in Mosul, during which they committed horrible atrocities. Over a million people in Mosul are living under the boot of ISIL, including most of the Yezidi slaves who were taken by ISIL two years ago.
ISIL is also on the run in Syria. Opposition forces there liberated the Syrian town of Dabiq from ISIL control, aided by support from Turkey and the international coalition. Dabiq held symbolic importance to ISIL. “The group carried out unspeakable atrocities in Dabiq, named its English-language magazine after the town and claimed it would be the site of a final victory for the so-called caliphate,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in a written statement.
In the military operation to drive ISIL out of Manbij, Syria, coalition fighters uncovered a trove of ISIL’s foreign fighters and information about where they’re planning and plotting their strategy. Coalition forces uncovered over 15 terabytes of material. This intelligence is being mined and shared shared with global coalition members.
Aside from territory, ISIL is losing its leaders. Since August 30, the United States has taken out more than 18 ISIL leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputy Mohammed Adnani, who was the leader of all their external operations. After the fall of Manbij, many of ISIL’s leaders left wherever they were and gathered elsewhere.
It is clear that ISIL is on the run, and its safe haven is shrinking rapidly. The United States and its coalition partners will not rest until the job is done and ISIL is utterly and completely defeated.