Washington, Oct 19 (IANS) The US Defense Department on Wednesday said the coordination between Iraqi government and Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the battle to free Mosul city of Iraq from the Islamic State (IS) is very good.
Some 18,000 soldiers from Iraq’s central army and 10,000 troops from the country’s Kurdistan region were converging on the IS stronghold city of Mosul, where it is believed that around 5,000 jihadist fighters remain, Efe news quoted Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis as saying.
“The level of coordination and cooperation we have seen between the Kurds and the (Iraqi security forces) has been very good,” Davis said, adding “they’re working together very well, collaborating just the way we would want them to”.
Davis dismissed the possibility that 100 to 200 US soldiers deployed in the area to provide intelligence and guidance would enter the offensive.
“To be clear, the thousands of combat forces that are going to liberate Mosul are Iraqis,” he said, adding that the US military role was restricted to providing precision airstrikes against IS.
The spokesman reiterated US President Barack Obama’s comments earlier that he was sure that Mosul would be liberated, although he could not specify when.
Several towns on the surrounding Mosul plains have been liberated by the advancing Iraqi forces.
Thick plumes of black smoke from burning tires and oil wells, lit by IS members to obscure their movements, were occasionally hampering air support.
There have also been reports of suicide bombers for the advancing Iraqi soldiers as well as incidents of civilians being dressed up in army attire and then executed on camera for propaganda purposes.
Davis noted, however, that the good progress achieved on the first day of the battle for Mosul.
The city, Iraq’s second largest, has languished under IS control since it fell to the terrorist group in 2014.
It soon became the group’s de facto Iraqi capital and it was from here that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate across the IS territories in Iraq and Syria.