World Bulletin / News Desk
U.S. Army Colonel John Dorian, the spokesman for an international, U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition, described the Iraqi army’s Mosul campaign -- which began on Oct. 17 -- as a difficult one.
According to Dorian, coalition forces are advising and assisting Iraqi forces in the months-long battle to retake the city.
This supporting role, he explained, includes providing Iraqi forces with "assistance with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, logistics, equipment and air and artillery strikes".
"The coalition has delivered 7,511 munitions against ISIL targets," Dorian told Anadolu Agency.
"These strikes have destroyed 108 vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, 125 tunnels, 292 vehicles, 331 bunkers, 23 anti-aircraft artillery, and 234 artillery and mortar systems," he said.
-‘Difficult to predict’
"It would be very difficult to accurately predict how long it will take to liberate either the eastern part of the city or Mosul in its entirety," the coalition spokesman asserted.
He went on to say that the ongoing fight for Mosul "is not a race", stressing that it would be "a hard battle for any army on this planet [to retake the city], including the U.S. Army".
Nevertheless, he was quick to emphasize that the extremists who remain holed up in Mosul were surrounded by "superior force".
"They are being bombarded daily by coalition air and artillery strikes, and they have no ability to reinforce or resupply," he said.
Regarding the situation west of Mosul, especially in the majority-Turkmen city of Tal Afar, Dorian stressed that the coalition was only supporting the Iraqi army in the area and not the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia group.
"We will continue to conduct precision strikes against ISIL targets anywhere in Iraq that they can be found," Dorian said.
The army officer went on to praise the Iraqi army’s role in protecting civilians within the context of the Mosul campaign.
Last Saturday, Iraqi forces resumed their offensive in the city following a week-long hiatus.
Officials in Baghdad have vowed to recapture Mosul -- once Iraq’s second largest city in terms of population -- before year’s end.
ISIL overran Mosul, along vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq, in mid-2014.
"We believe the Iraqi security forces will accelerate their attack at a time of their choosing," said Dorian.
"I will not disclose the timing in the interest of protecting operational security," he added.