The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq has been stepping up operations in and around Mosul. The coalition is looking to take back the militant-held city in a new offensive.
The coalition has conducted 50 airstrikes on ISIS in Mosul since the beginning of October, reports The Associated Press.
Qayara air base, to the south of Mosul, remains the coalition’s center of operations. Iraqi troops have been moving into the south and east of the city.
"We have been intensifying our efforts in and around Mosul," Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, said in a statement on Oct. 14.
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"All the troop movements now are related to the Mosul operation," added Brig. Gen. Firas Bashar, of the Iraqi army.
Mosul has been held by ISIS since 2014. Coalition commanders estimate 30,000 troops will be required to free the city of the militants' grip, and will be the most complex operation for the Iraqi military to date.
"You've got to look at Mosul as the crown jewel right now," Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky said.
Liberating Mosul is an “order of magnitude larger than the liberation battles in cities such as Ramadi, Fallujah and Sharqat,” Dorrian continued, reports the Department of Defense. “Continuing to pressure the enemy along the Euphrates River Valley is very important to the overall security of Iraq. And we'll continue a relentless campaign of strikes to keep the enemy on the back foot as the [Iraqi forces continue clearing operations].”
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Across the border in Syria, coalition forces have conducted advise-and-assist missions that have eradicated ISIS from a substantial region, as well.
Dorrian concluded, “since the start of Operation Noble Lance, these partnered forces have liberated 254 square kilometers of ground, to include the people in 37 villages in that area.”
Sources: AP via The New York Times, AP, U.S. Department of Defense / Photo credit: Anderson W. Branch/US Navy/US Department of Defense