U.S. General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Air Force Association conference that Iraqi forces being trained by the U.S.-led coalition will soon be ready to move on the ISIL-held city of Mosul.
General Dunford said the forces will be “marshaled, trained, fielded and equipped” for the operation in early October. It will, however, be the decision of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi when it will launch. Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq, and was seized by ISIL fighters in June 2014.
President Barack Obama met recently with Prime Minister al-Abadi when both leaders were in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. In remarks after the meeting, President Obama praised the sacrifices of the Iraqi people and armed forces which have led, he said, to significant progress in the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against ISIL, including taking back half of the populated territory the terror group had seized. Mr. Obama noted that the Iraqi security forces have grown in confidence as they have coordinated with the 67-member coalition.
“Now,” President Obama said, “what we’re focusing on is to go right at the heart of the ISIL operations in Mosul:”
“This is going to be a challenging battle. Mosul is a large city, and ISIL has embedded itself deeply within that city. But because of the prepositioning of forces, because of the cooperation between the coalition and the Iraqi security forces, because of the cooperation and courage of the Kurdish Peshmerga, we feel confident that we will be in a position to move forward fairly rapidly.”
President Obama noted that in addition to the liberation of Mosul from ISIL, he and Prime Minister al-Abadi discussed the importance of humanitarian assistance to the displaced and suffering population there. He also stressed the importance of rebuilding the city in a way that assures that “not only ISIL does not come back, but extremist ideologies born out of desperation do not return.”
Mr. Obama praised Prime Minister al-Abadi, who he said, “has consistently operated in a way that indicates his commitment to an inclusive Iraq that treats everybody fairly, respects human rights. And the work we’re doing with the Iraqi government will adhere to those principles, not just in the Mosul campaign, but beyond.”