Preparations to retake Iraq's Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) is continuing, according to a top U.S. official assigned to the coalition.
“Preparations to take Mosul are happening now, including precision airstrikes by coalition forces,” wrote Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the U.S.-led military campaign against IS in Iraq and Syria, on his Twitter account on March 15.
The coalition has not forgotten about the people of Mosul, he said.
On March 1, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement that Iraqi troops backed by paramilitary forces and aerial support launched a new push to retake a key area north of Baghdad, the Jazerat Samarra area, and dislodge IS militants from the area.
The offensive was designed to cut IS supply lines and tighten the grip around the IS-held northern city of Mosul.
Warren said the Iraqi army recently killed about 50 IS fighters near Ramadi.
He added that more than 450 cadets had recently graduated from a commando course in Baghdad and joined the fight against IS as elite fighters.
“The first big battle in the Euphrates River Valley will be [in] Hit,” he said, while claiming that the U.S.-led coalition was killing “a leader nearly every 3 days.”
“They are weakening, but the battle is not over,” he said. “The military defeat of Daesh will be quicker than the ideological defeat,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Testifying on March 9 before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Joseph Votel, who is the prospective next commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said he did not have all the people and equipment required to eliminate IS.
Votel said he anticipated needing “additional resources” to retake the group's strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa, although he did not specify his desires.