Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State anywhere across its once vast territorial holdings in Iraq and neighboring Syria, has been held by the group since its fighters drove the U.S.-trained army out in June 2014.
Its fall would probably end Islamic State’s ambition to rule over millions of people in a self-styled caliphate, but the fighters could still mount a traditional insurgency in Iraq, and plot or inspire attacks on the West.
Iraqi forces will resume their push against Islamic State inside Mosul in the coming days, a U.S. battlefield commander said, in a new phase of the two-month-old operation that will see American troops deployed closer to the front line in the city.
Few soldiers thought they would be back nearly 14 years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, sparking an al Qaeda-backed insurgency and throwing the country into a sectarian civil war. Yet here they are in Mosul, albeit with a fraction of the numbers and a much narrower mission.