Top US General: Two More Years to Beat ISIS by Kimberly Dozier, The Daily Beast
The general commanding coalition forces in Iraq predicts it will take two years of hard fighting to clear the so-called Islamic State from its twin capitals of Mosul and Raqqa, and then to burn out the remnants that will likely flee to the vast empty desert between Syria and Iraq.
In a Christmas Day sit-down with The Daily Beast at his headquarters, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend would not put specific timelines on the battle. But he mapped out a grinding campaign that he thinks is going slowly but as well as can be expected, considering how much time ISIS had to prepare and how brutal its fighters are willing to be.
“A fighter walking out of a building will hold a child over his head so we can see him through ISR until he reaches another building,” he said, using the military acronym for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
The grim battle against ISIS is taking place against a backdrop of continuing sectarian tension in Iraq, which could get worse if newly empowered militia groups let their influence go to their heads. A new Iraqi law that goes into force this week makes militia forces here legal. Such groups – especially Iranian backed Shi’ite armed forces -- have been accused of war crimes against Iraq’s Sunni minority. The U.S. has ordinarily eyed these units warily…