Pentagon: ISIS preparing for Mosul offensive

The Pentagon is seeing signs the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is preparing for the upcoming Mosul offensive, which is slated to start in weeks.  

“We’ve seen a number of things, everything from berms and trenches being prepared, [bombs] being placed in buildings and cars and along roads along the way, charges being placed on bridges, giant pits full of tire and oil being readied to be lit quickly and create these giant obscuration fires, very smoky dark clouds that make it hard to do air operations,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Tuesday. 

{mosads}”So we see all of the above in what they’re doing to be prepared to defend Mosul, and we’re certainly well-aware that this is going to be a difficult challenge,” he said. 

Davis demurred when asked if U.S. forces can see ISIS leaders fleeing Mosul.

“I’m not going to get into specific intelligence. We do see the ISIL leadership moving a lot,” he said, using another acronym for ISIS.  

“They do move. But they do so again at their own peril. I think they know as well as anybody that any time they’re moving, that’s when they’re at the greatest risk,” he added. 

Iraqi troops are planning a new offensive to retake the city.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has admonished the Obama administration for not keeping the upcoming attack a secret, saying it should have been a “sneak attack.”

“We have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks. Well, all of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul. Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success?” he said. 

“People leave,” he continued. “Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?”

Davis would not address Trump’s remarks but noted that the Iraqi government — which is leading the fight in Mosul — is discussing the upcoming Mosul offensive. 

“They have been very forthcoming about what the plan is, and they’ve done it largely in the name of warning civilians in Mosul to be ready for it and to try to get out if they can,” he said.

While Davis would not say whether ISIS leaders are actually fleeing, he said they were having a harder time controlling their forces and pushing ISIS members who don’t normally fight into combat roles. 

“There is a very large scale loss of morale. They are a demoralized enemy,” he said. “We’re seeing them drawing upon other people and forcing them into combat roles, people who are part of ISIL but not in military missions,” he said. 

“People who are office clerks or accountants or run other parts of the operation that are being put into arms.”  

Davis would not comment either on the plan to help the Iraqi government secure Mosul once ISIS is pushed out. 

“The plan that we’re working in support of the government of Iraq I think is one that will address that, but we’re not going to telegraph the specifics of it,” he said.

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