It appears that during the next phase of the Mosul offensive, the US-led coalition would not only seek to deal a heavy blow to Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq but also to restore the reputation of the Pentagon's generals following Russia's success in Aleppo, Gazeta.ru's military expert, retired Colonel Mikhail Khodarenok believes.
"Three months ago, when the operation to liberate Mosul from Daesh terrorists began, the outgoing US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that it could be complete before 2017 begins. However, this has not happened yet and there is still a long way to go before the terrorists are defeated," Khodarenok noted in his recent op-ed.
According to the retired colonel, the liberation of Mosul is meant to become the US' response to the success of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian military forces in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
"The coalition's major efforts are now focused on the liberation of the eastern part of [Mosul], blocking Daesh's communications from the south and north-west, undermining the terrorist group's command system and reducing their combat capabilities through massive air strikes," the retired general noted.
The US Department of Defense reported Thursday that the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (ICTS) has already retaken 70 to 80 percent of eastern Mosul.
According to Rudaw, on Friday the Iraqi forces managed to liberate two more eastern Mosul districts, Faisaliyah and Nasr, on the eastern edge of the Tigris.
Citing Iraqi Joint Command, the media outlet added that the 15th and 16th divisions of the Iraqi Army have also liberated the northern parts of the Hadbaa and Mudaraa districts in northern Mosul.
Still, Khodarenok expresses concerns about the challenge posed by Daesh to Iraqi military forces in heavily fortified western Mosul.
As of yet, terrorists have managed to resist the offensive, although the US-led coalition forces have provided considerable air and artillery support to Iraq's army.
Some senior Pentagon officers share a similar stance.
"I had a good chuckle when I heard Ash Carter say last week that ISIS' 'days are numbered'. In fact, its months are numbered. This whole idea that the battle will be over by the time that Trump is inaugurated is a fantasy. This is going to go on for a long time," a senior Centcom officer told Mark Perry of Politico.com in mid-December.
"If that rate stays constant, the division could become combat ineffective in a little over a month, and perhaps even sooner," the Centcom officer noted as cited by the journalist.
It appears that the terrorist group is well aware of the actual operational capabilities of the coalition forces, Khodarenok suggested. Apparently therefore, Daesh commanders have "easily" ceded the south-eastern part of Mosul and dispatched their forces to Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor and al-Bab in Syria, he noted.
To complicate matters further, the Mosul offensive has pushed Iraq to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, the military expert noted.
Since the beginning of the operation last October, more than 144,500 people have been displaced, the United Nations migration agency reported Friday. According to the agency, 144,588 people have been displaced between October 17, 2016 and January 12, 2017.
Moreover, between January 5 and 12, some 12,354 Iraqis have been forced to more, the UN official website says.
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