Islamic State Expected to Fall Back, Wage Urban Warfare in Mosul by Travis Tritten, Stars & Stripes
The Islamic State group is expected to fall back from its outer perimeter defenses in Mosul and wage what could be brutal urban combat inside the city of about 1.5 million people, a U.S. military official said Friday.
That could mean street-by-street fighting for U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish troops as the extremist group employs snipers, human shields and chemical weapons, the official said. The group showed another element of its strategy – distraction – with a suicide assault Friday in Kirkuk about 100 miles to the southeast.
The battle to retake Mosul, which has already claimed the life of a U.S. sailor, is only beginning and could take weeks or months. About 4,800 U.S. troops including embedded special operators are backing about 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces who this week launched the offensive, which is the biggest operation yet against the Islamic State group.
Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, who was with Iraqi forces northeast of Mosul, died Wednesday after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, becoming the first casualty among the U.S. troops working on the front lines.
The fighting is likely to get much tougher as it shifts to the city’s urban center, said the military official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the situation unfolding in Iraq…