After many months of delays and false starts, it finally appears that the campaign for Mosul is entering the final stage.
Earlier this month, Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, launched an offensive to retake several villages east of the city. The capture of the air base at Qayyara, 40 miles south of Mosul, gives the Iraqis and their U.S. and international partners a strategic staging area for an assault against the city.
Kurdish officials have said they plan to advance to within about 10 miles of Mosul without entering it. That, they say, they'll leave to the Iraqi army; the peshmerga will play a supporting role.
Front-line peshmerga fighters expect a bloody, protracted and complicated fight ahead, notwithstanding a coalition assessment that enemy resistance is beginning to crumble.
Yet Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, who recently gave up command of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition, was upbeat in recent remarks.
Islamic State fighters are becoming "even easier targets," he told reporters. The coalition has killed roughly 45,000 militants, and those remaining, an estimated 15,000 to 30,000, fight less effectively than in the past. more
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