Kurdish Peshmerga fighters inspect an rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher as they take control of the area, on the outskirts of Mosul February 6, 2015. REUTERS/Ari Jalal
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When Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged in December that Iraq would retake Daesh's (ISIS) de facto capital Mosul by the end of 2016, the target was greeted with skepticism by Western allies and officials within his own government. Less than seven months on, the Iraqi military has recaptured most major militant positions in western Anbar province and advanced toward Mosul, the largest city still under the hard-line group's control across its self-proclaimed caliphate.Abadi, backed by a U.S.-led military coalition, now wants to move on Mosul by October, a senior Baghdad-based diplomat and a Western official said, both declining to be identified.Forces must advance from Qayara, where 5,000 army forces and a division from the counterterrorism service (CTS) are stationed.U.S. forces, which peaked at around 170,000 military personnel after the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, failed to secure the area southwest of Mosul completely when they fought Al-Qaeda, Daesh's predecessor.U.S. and Iraqi authorities are confident troops will be ready for the assault on Mosul.U.S. soldiers have provided close artillery support to Iraqis and conducted raids against Daesh, both of which could expedite the Mosul offensive.
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