Thousands of ISIS Fighters Remain in Mosul

Iraqi forces and US-led coalition airpower have wiped out thousands of ISIS fighters inside Mosul, though a substantial force remains inside the city poised to prolong the fight, the top US official in the fight said. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said Sunday that the coalition thinks “we have killed or badly wounded over 2,000” ISIS fighters since the advance on Mosul began. That means somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 remain inside the city, Townsend said during a briefing at Qayyarah West Airfield in Iraq. The airfield is a symbol of the Iraqi and coalition momentum in the fight against ISIS, who abandoned the base after inflicting major damage. US forces, including Air Force civil engineers, rebuilt the airstrip to allow mobility aircraft to use it. “This is a critical launching pad for the battle of Mosul,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during the briefing. Iraqi forces have moved within the city of Mosul, but have faced heavy resistance and taken high casualties. “The Iraqi Security Forces have been and are fighting hard,” Carter said. “And as a consequence of that, they have taken losses and they are our comrades-in-arms over the years. So our hearts go out to them, to their families.”