Momentum in Mosul Push; Raqqa Isolation to Begin 'Soon'

The general said he attended the Iraqis' final operational briefing, where commanders responsible for an axis of advance provided their plan to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

"I can tell you that it was clear to me that night that the sovereign nation of Iraq owns this fight," he said, further commending forces for "pressing steadily forward on the battlefield."

Raqqa Offensive Coming 'Soon'

Separately, Townsend discussed retaking the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIL. Syria is a complicated battlespace, he said, with many regional security concerns.

"It's going to be a tough -- very tough political environment and a security environment, I think, for our effort there," the general said.

Coalition allies, partners and members are working to refine the military plan for the isolation and eventual liberation of Raqqa, he said, and precision strikes continue to target ISIL’s leaders and command and control structures while reducing the terrorists’ freedom of movement.

Townsend said he believes there are sufficient forces for the Raqqa operation. Local populations are willing to fight ISIL because of its brutal tactics, the general said, and “this gives us confidence that ISIL will also be driven from Raqqa."

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