Syria

Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul Foreign Minister Says

Iraqi officials are increasingly emboldened about their prospects of retaking the city of Mosul from the Islamic State terror group even though it puts them at odds with the U.S. assessment.

Neither they nor U.S. defense officials have been willing to put any sort of timeline on what promises to be a complex operation to push IS out of Iraq’s second-largest city. Still, with each day that passes Iraq’s confidence seems to grow.

“I believe that this will happen sooner or later because the Iraqi Army is gaining,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari told VOA through an interpreter following his most recent trip to Washington.

Those steady gains, pushing IS out of about half of the territory it once held in Iraq, have come as Iraq Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters march to a steady drumbeat of U.S. and coalition airstrikes.

Yet U.S. and coalition officials meeting in Washington last week voiced strong concerns about the dangers of the potential lag time between an initial military push into Mosul and follow-up operations to stabilize the city.

Before leaving Washington, Iraq’s foreign minister tried to put such concerns to rest.

“The Iraqi government has prepared a plan,” al-Jaafari told VOA late Friday. “It has a military phase, a services phase, and also a plan for the humanitarian response.”

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