Iraqi Forces Taking Heavy Losses, Making Progress in Mosul

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, told Congress Wednesday that Iraqi Security Forces “have got their hands full” in the last stage of the fight to retake Mosul from ISIS. The fight has recently entered the “old city” district, Votel said, in a part of Mosul that is a “very dense urban area” with an environment that “favors the defender [more] than it does the attacker.” As such, in the last 37 days, ISF has sustained 284 killed and over 1,600 wounded, Votel said. Crucial to the ongoing success of the operation, he said, is not only support from “US and coalition advise and assist teams,” but also the cohesion of the ISF forces themselves. Iraqi forces are comprised by federal police, army members, and counterterrorism forces—each of which answers to separate commanders. For Mosul, though, ISF has designated “a common commander.” Because of the new joint force structure, Iraqi forces are “operating much better in conjunction and in synchronization with each other and that has really paid off,” Votel said.