Allied warplanes and Iraqi ground troops are increasingly isolating Islamic State militants in the captured city of Mosul, prompting Iraqi officials to push for a winter offensive to wrest control of the area months ahead of the previous schedule — and over American warnings.
The ground campaign to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, is still most likely many weeks away, American officials said. Its timing will depend on the pace of training for additional Iraqi ground troops to retake the city and for a holding force afterward, as well as sorting out a brewing dispute between Baghdad and Washington over whether Iraq is ready to carry out such a complex urban battle.
The United States and its coalition partners have carried out more than 660 airstrikes in Iraq, making it more difficult for the Islamic State to mass large numbers of forces or to travel in convoys. These attacks, including air raids in the past few days and Iraqi ground operations in the north and west, have made it more difficult for the Islamic State to resupply and reinforce its fighters in Mosul, which ISIS seized in June when it swept in from Syria and made its headquarters in Iraq. […]