Iraqi troops ‘ahead of schedule’ in Mosul battle against IS

Photo: AFP

Iraqi forces are “ahead of schedule”, the Pentagon says, as they begin the second day of the battle to retake Mosul from so-called IS fighters, the BBC eports.

But Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook warned it “could take some time” as it remained to be seen whether Islamic State (IS) would “stand and fight”.

Fighting continued overnight, with IS militants attacking Iraqi army tanks.

IS seized Mosul, then Iraq’s second-largest city, in June 2014.

The extremists’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi then chose Mosul as the place to announce the forming of a caliphate, so retaking the city would be “symbolic”, according to Mr Cook.

Mr Cook told reporters in Washington: “Early indications are that Iraqi forces have met their objectives so far, and that they are ahead of schedule for this first day. This is going according to the Iraqi plan – but again, it’s early, and the enemy gets a vote here. We will see whether ISIL [IS] stands and fights.

“We are confident no matter what, however, that the Iraqis have the capabilities to get this job done, and we stand ready to support them, along with the rest of the coalition.”

A coalition of 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Sunni tribal fighters began their advance on lS’s last major stronghold in the country after months of planning on Monday.

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