Iraqi PM: Retaking Mosul From IS Possible

Iraqi PM: Retaking Mosul From IS PossibleIraqi PM: Retaking Mosul From IS Possible

Iraq’s premier expressed confidence that the country’s struggling army is capable of retaking the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.

The chief problem, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a gathering of political and economic leaders in Davos, is that Iraqi forces in the area are currently split and need to join up.

“That’s why we are fighting now to make sure that that road link is connected and open for our forces to move forward,” he said, AFP reported.

“We need to have a liaison between the rest of the Iraqi forces and (Kurdish) peshmerga and the coalition partners, and it can be done,” said Abadi, stressing that IS fighters’ morale was running low. “In some instances, IS fighters just flee, they don’t fight,” he said.

Asked by a moderator at the Davos event to confirm reports that half of the IS leadership have been eliminated, Abadi said, “Yes we have seen that.”

According to reports, United States and Iraq - whose army is undergoing training by US and other foreigner instructors - want to retake Mosul by summer.

US air strikes have recently focused on putting pressure on Mosul. Kurdish peshmerga forces have also launched successful offensives against IS-held roads near Mosul, which is in the north of the country.

  Slow Progress

The Pentagon said on Friday that IS militants have lost only a tiny fraction of captured territory in Iraq after five months of US-led air strikes.

Kurdish peshmerga forces and Iraqi government troops have retaken 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) of ground mostly in northern Iraq, but the IS group still holds 55,000 square kilometers, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

That amounts to roughly one percent of IS-held territory changing hands since the US launched air raids in Iraq on August 8.

Kirby acknowledged that not much ground had been gained back so far but said that the air strikes had halted the momentum of the IS and bought time for the training of Baghdad government forces.

The US military has made clear the campaign against IS “is going to take time,” according to Kirby. “I think we all recognize that it’s a small percentage of the total right now. But we’re only six, seven months into this thing, too,” he said.

The Pentagon provided the figures after announcing recently that Iraqi and Kurdish troops had regained 700 square kilometers, without explaining what percentage that represented of all territory held by the IS militants.

By comparison, the Iraqi government held about 77,000 square kilometers and the Kurdish forces controlled roughly 56,000 square kilometers, he said.