Iraqi Approach to Mosul Moving Faster than Expected

The Iraqi approach into Mosul is moving ahead of expectations, with US fires suppressing ISIS’s ability to launch large-scale suicide attacks, the commander of the US-led coalition’s ground forces said during a Wednesday update. As of Tuesday, the Iraqi forces had liberated 13 villages on their way to Mosul—the country’s second largest city, which has been held by the group since 2014. “The movement has gone pretty well,” said Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve combined forces land component and commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “The Iraqis are ahead of where I thought they would be when this operation started. They continue to move and continue to liberate villages.” The Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga approach was bolstered by coalition “good lethal fires” on ISIS command and control with the first series of targets in the lead up to the offensive. Then, the coalition targeted ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device production areas, weapons caches, and other headquarters facilities “to set the conditions.” “The enemy’s primary response has been indirect fire,” Volesky said, saying the coalition has been able to destroy vehicle borne IEDs before they reached Iraqis. “So we expect there will be a fight. But you know, all I can tell you is there are fewer Daesh fighters today than there were yesterday and there’ll be fewer tomorrow than there are today,” said Volesky, using another term for ISIS.