Coalition general says ISIS still has 3,000 to 5,000 fighters in Mosul

Militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS). File photo

ARA News

Erbil – The US-coalition estimates that there are still 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters inside Mosul.

“3,000 to 5,000 is probably still accurate. At the start of the campaign, we estimated somewhere between at the low end 3,500, at the high end, about 6,000. By our calculations we think we have killed or badly wounded over 2,000. So if you do the math, that’s still 3,000-5,000,” Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend, who leads the coalition forces against ISIS on the ground, told a press conference in the city of Qayyarah.

Furthermore, the coalition general denied that there is a stalemate in Mosul.

“I don’t think it suggests anything about a stalemate. This is a major urban area. Any army on the planet, to include the United States Army, would be challenged by this fight.  And the Iraqi army has come back from near defeat two years ago, and now they’re attacking this major city, 400 kilometers from Baghdad,” he added.

Mosul is the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq. The group took over the city in June 2014, and immediately afterward announced its self-proclaimed Caliphate.

On October 17, the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga launched a major operation to liberate Mosul city and its surroundings. According to military sources, more than 2,200 ISIS militants have been killed in the operation so far.

In the meantime, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who visited Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region this week, said that the security forces haven taken losses in Mosul.

The UN Iraq Mission said that at least 1,959 members of the Iraqi security forces have been killed since the launch of the anti-ISIS Mosul operation on 17 October in all of Iraq.

“The Iraqi Security Forces have been and are fighting hard. As a consequence of that, they have taken losses and they are our comrades-in-arms over the years.  So our hearts go out to them, to their families,” Secretary Carter said. “And at the same time we are constantly helping them to reset their forces after they carry out an operation. That’s one of the roles we play here. We’re in an enabling role. We do equipping, logistics, sustainment.”

“We help them with their own medical system so that they can treat their casualties, with mobility as well as all of the awesome military power of the United States, air power, artillery, and so forth, so that they can have battlefield success with minimal losses,” he added. “But there still are significant losses because it’s a hard fight,” he concluded.

Moreover, the coalition says that they have killed prominent ISIS jihadist leaders. “A significant part of their leadership has been killed. And the rest of it, knowing that they’re being hunted, are therefore forced to behave like hunted men. And that by itself also adds a benefit in the sense that their freedom to communicate, their freedom to move, their freedom to instill confidence in their forces is also reduced as we wipe out some of them, because the rest of them have to lie lower,” US Defence Secretary Carter said.

“I’ll just add that so as the secretary said, we’re continually striking his command and control and key leaders daily.  And we see that in our intelligence reporting that it’s affecting his life,” Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend. “And Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi probably wishes he had more direct command and control over his formation than he does right now. He’s trying to find ways to regain effectiveness. So we have to constantly stay after this every day of the fight to eventually win. And we will win,” he stated.

Supported by the US-led coalition, the Iraqi forces have so far captured some 28 neighborhoods in the war-torn city since the launch of Mosul operation, forcing the Islamic State back towards the downtown core.

Informed sources inside Mosul told ARA News that the Iraqi forces currently control approximately 50% of Mosul city, beside tightening the siege on the ISIS-held downtown districts.

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