ERBIL – Brigadier General David Anderson told reporters on Wednesday that after the fall of Mosul city, the Islamic State (ISIS) will continue to hold Raqqa, which they value more. Anderson leads Canada’s Ministerial Liaison Team, which trains Iraqi soldiers and coordinates within the US-led coalition.
The coalition general said that following the liberation of Mosul, it will take an estimated 30,000 to 45,000 troops to secure such a large city. Local police would remain on the front line, serving as the public face of Iraqi security.
“[Mosul’s fall] doesn’t mean ISIS is completely defeated,” Anderson said. “They will still be holding terrain in Tal Afar and out to the Syrian border. They’ll still be holding terrain in the western part of the [Euphrates River Valley] in Iraq. And of course, they still have the capital of their so-called caliphate in Raqqa.”
According to the general, the fate of Mosul and Raqqa will be interlinked.
“There’s a linkage between the two. Ideally, both could be pressured at the same time, because I think if I was in Mosul and I needed somewhere to go, I would go to Raqqa if I wanted to maintain the fight,” he said.
The general reminded reporters that Raqqa in Syria, and Mosul in Iraq, are the capitals of the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. “And so they both matter an awful lot to [ISIS] and I think that probably Raqqa matters more,” Anderson said.
“If Mosul falls first, there is the potential for fighters to be able to reinforce into Raqqa. But beyond that, it would literally be crystal balling and I don’t know any more than that,” he concluded.