British Major General Calls Fight for Mosul 'Toughest Since World War Two'
Major General Rupert Jones, British deputy commander of the international coalition on Wednesday (August 23) called the Iraqi fight for Mosul "Toughest since World War Two."
At a briefing with Pentagon reporters he said, "If you look back in your history books, I think you will be hard pressed to find an urban battle as intense and as challenging as the battle of Mosul, until you go back to World War Two."
He also said that once Iraqi forces clear Tal Afar, it will essentially end Islamic State's presence in Iraq.
Government forces breached the city limits of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq on Tuesday on the third day of a U.S.-backed offensive to seize it back from Islamic State militants.
Tal Afar, a longtime Islamic State stronghold, is the latest objective in the war following the recapture of Mosul after a nine-month campaign that left much of that city in ruins.
About 2,000 battle-hardened militants remain in the city, according to U.S. and Iraqi military commanders. They are expected to put up a tough fight, even though intelligence from inside the city indicates they have been exhausted by months of combat, aerial bombardments, and by the lack of fresh supplies.
The United Nation's International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that some 10,000 to 40,000 people are still living in the town of Tal Afar and surrounding areas.
ISIS’ self-proclaimed "caliphate" effectively collapsed last month, when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces completed the takeover of the militants' capital in Iraq, Mosul, after a nine-month campaign
Beyond Tal Afar, the city with about 200,000 residents before falling to ISIS, the militants still controls other pockets of territory in Iraq, including the town of Hawija and the surrounding area.