Iraqi security forces were "ahead of schedule" after the first day of an offensive for the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook on Monday. A U.S.-led coalition has for months been helping train Iraqi forces for the fight for Mosul — the last Islamic State stronghold in Iraq — and the military offensive finally got underway early Monday. Cook, however, warned it was unknown how long the battle would last. A top U.S. general earlier said it would take several weeks or even longer.
We are in the first day of what we assume will be a difficult campaign that could take some time.Peter Cook, Pentagon spokesman
More is riding on the battle for Mosul than the recapture of the Islamic State's main stronghold in northern Iraq. Also on the line is the Obama administration's theory that the extremists can be defeated in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere without American ground troops doing the fighting. For more than two years, the administration has stuck to its argument that the only path to a sustained victory over the Islamic State group is for locals, not Americans or other outsiders, to bear the main responsibility for the fighting and for governing after the extremists are removed.
I think the president would be the first to acknowledge that this is a significant test.White House press secretary Josh Earnest