SOUTHWEST ASIA - On Oct. 17, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, made the following statement regarding the start of the Iraqi offensive to liberate Mosul:
"Earlier today, Iraqi Security Forces launched their counter-attack to liberate Mosul from ISIL, also known as Da’esh. This operation to regain control of Iraq’s second-largest city will likely continue for weeks, possibly longer. Iraq is supported by a wide range of coalition capabilities, including air support, artillery, intelligence, advisors and forward air controllers. But to be clear, the thousands of ground combat forces who will liberate Mosul are all Iraqis.
"This liberation battle comes after more than two years of Da’esh oppression in Mosul, during which they committed horrible atrocities, brutalized the people and asserted the city was one of their twin capitals. ISIL’s cruelty and reach has shown that they are not just a threat in Iraq and Syria, but to the region and the entire world.
"Over the course of these past two years, a coalition of more than 60 nations has united to defeat ISIL. We have conducted tens of thousands of precision strikes to support Iraqi operations, trained and equipped more than 54,000 Iraqi forces, and supported our Iraqi partners as they fought to liberate their country.
"As we provide our support, we will continue to use precision to accurately attack the enemy and to minimize any impact on innocent civilians. We can’t predict how long it will take for the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Da'esh in Mosul; but we know they will succeed—just as they did in Bayji, in Ramadi, in Fallujah and, more recently in Qayyarah and Sharqat.
"This may prove to be a long and tough battle, but the Iraqis have prepared for it and we will stand by them. The Iraqi Security Forces and the Coalition are not only fighting for the future of Iraq, we are fighting to ensure the security of all of our nations. We salute the bravery and commitment of the Iraqi Security Forces to this mission and wish them good luck and God’s blessings in this battle."