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U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky meets with an Iraqi soldier before the Mosul offensive, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2016 (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lemmons).

Will the Battle for Mosul Validate Obama’s Counter-Extremism Strategy?

Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

In 2014, the so-called Islamic State rolled across northern Iraq in a shocking offensive, as Iraqi security forces crumbled before it. Although the extremists could not take Baghdad, they did occupy several major cities, mostly importantly Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which they quickly turned into their de facto capital. But 2014 was their high-water mark: Since then Iraqi security forces and Shiite and Kurdish militias regrouped and pushed the Islamic State back.

Now the most important battle of the counteroffensive has begun with an ongoing operation to recapture Mosul. Kurdish forces known as peshmerga, advancing in gun trucks and armored vehicles, having driven Islamic State fighters out of the villages east of Mosul, while Iraqi military and police units as well as Shiite militias push up from the south. Under a U.S.-brokered agreement, elite Iraqi counterterrorism forces, federal police and local tribal fighters will eventually clear the city of Islamic State fighters. ...

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