Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, The USA’s highest ranking military official in Iraq, has said that the Islamic State’s strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria will be taken back within six months.
According to reports in the Swedish media, Townsend was quoted as saying, “In the next six months we will conclude both the Mosul and Raqqa operations”.
As soon as he took office, US President Donald Trump had asked the Pentagon to come up with a plan to fight ISIS within a month. Although the deadline is a couple of weeks away, by all accounts the US army has sped up its efforts on the ground.
The general had previously claimed in December last year that it could take two years for both Mosul and Raqqa to be cleared of IS.
Last month the US provided the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with armoured vehicles to help in their operation to take the IS stronghold in Syria. The SDF, who announced the third phase of their ‘operation to liberate Raqqa’ last week, have recently been making significant strides and are edging closer to the city.
The Mosul operation is at an advanced stage with the Iraqi army already fighting IS inside the city.