The international coalition fighting the ultra-hardline terror group ISIS will have to begin the fight for liberating Mosul soon to meet Iraq’s aim of retaking the city by the end of the year, a U.S. military official said on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, who took over last month as commander of U.S. operations against ISIS, predicted in an interview that the battle for Mosul would begin before early October. But further details as to whether the offensive would begin in a month were not given.
“Ultimately, if the desire is to try to get it done around the end of the year, we’re going to have to start soon,” Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, told a Pentagon briefing. But he declined to confirm an October timeline.
On the other hand, the Republican presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump has been catching some heat for previously made comments about Iraq and Libya.
Trump repeatedly said that he did not support the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011, but past public statements on both international affairs contradict his current position.
The controversy renewed on Wednesday when Trump made an appearance on NBC’s Commander-In-Chief Forum and refuted a criticism being leveled at him by his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election.
“I heard Hillary Clinton say I was not against the war in Iraq. I was totally against the war in Iraq,” Trump told host Matt Lauer.
“You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that. And I was against the war in Iraq, I said it’s going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has. It’s been a disastrous war.”
Outlets like Politifact and BuzzFeed News have pointed out in the past that Trump in 2002 expressed halfhearted approval of the impending U.S. invasion.