U.S. Troops are set to move closer to the front line in the battle to retake the Iraq city of Mosul. Lieutenant Colonel Stuart James, commander of a combat arms battalion assisting Iraqi security forces on the south eastern front, told Reuters news agency, “Right now we’re staging really for the next phase of the attack as we start the penetration into the interior of east Mosul.
“So right now, positioning forces and positioning men and equipment into the interior of east Mosul… it’s going to happen in the next several days.”
One hundred thousand Iraqi troops together with members of the Kurdish security forces and Shi’ite militiamen have been battling jihadists for several months. The fighting has been dogged and slow. A planned operational refit has seen the fighting momentarily stop. Despite the conditions a quarter of the city has been recaptured by the Iraqi soldiers.
Two weeks ago, however, army units advised by the Americans suffered heavy losses. This led to several thousand police units redeployed to the region.
The advance will be the biggest American ground troop deployment to the front line since the invasion of 2003. The threat to the American troops has been described as moderate by James. Three servicemen have been killed in the last month.
The U.S as part of a coalition force has conducted thousands of airstrikes and trained tens of thousands of troops. The Iraqi forces will work alongside U.S advisers.
James describes success against ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh, also known as Islamic State as the amount of resistance they can mount. He said, “If we achieve great success on the first day and we gain momentum, then it may go very quickly. If Daesh fights very hard the first day and we run into a roadblock and we have to go back and go OK that was not the correct point of penetration, it may take longer.”
The American integration with the Iraqi troops is unprecedented and it is believed that this will increase and coordinate surveillance, air support, and force movements.