Fall of Mosul would mean end of ISIS 'caliphate' in Iraq: U.S. General
By NBC News
Photo courtesy of NBC News.
by RICHARD ENGEL
Qayyarah Airbase, South of Mosul, Iraq — The American ground force commander in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, said U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have momentum on their side in the battle to drive ISIS out of its Iraq stronghold, the northern city of Mosul.
Volesky, speaking to NBC News in his first interview since the Mosul offensive began earlier this week, expressed confidence that the terror group will lose Mosul and with it, its caliphate, or Islamic state, in Iraq.
"ISIS has said, this is the crown jewel of Iraq and its idea of a caliphate," Volesky said. "There's not going to be a caliphate, if there ever really was one. So for ISIL, this is going to be a key loss for them and it will be a loss"
Volesky praised Iraqi troops for advancing quickly toward Mosul and said so far the resistance they have meet has been moderate.
"Iraqis have the momentum," he said. "They know it and they want to get there as quickly as they can."
The Iraqi army has a lot riding on the success of the Mosul operation. ISIS was able to swiftly take control of Mosul two and a half years ago when the Iraqi army collapsed in the city, running from the fight and abandoning their weapons.
Volesky doesn't expect that to happen this time.
"They're much more confident and they've learned from these last two years," he said. "Make no mistake, they've learned."