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ISIS' Defensive Operations in Mosul Tough for Any Army to Beat, Official Says

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2017 — The operation to liberate Mosul from the grasp of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was difficult because ISIS had two to three years to prepare its defense of Iraq's second-largest city, an Operation Inherent Resolve task force commander told Pentagon reporters via teleconference from Iraq today.

"It was a defense that any army would have a hard time defeating," said Army Col. Pat Work, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, who also commands Task Force Falcon in the effort to defeat ISIS.

Work said his task force's core mission is to advise and assist Iraqi security forces as they pursue their mission of defeating ISIL.

"For three years, it dominated and subjugated a vulnerable population," he emphasized. "Never-ending expansion and tireless conquests are its organizing principles. It brutally murdered thousands, including scores of women and children."

ISIS turned Mosul, like much of Iraq, into a battlefield, and the fight against the common enemy continues, he said.

Condolences Offered

On behalf of the coalition, Work extended condolences to the people of Iraq who suffered "so mightily" at the hands of ISIS. "We also offer our sympathies to the families of the brave soldiers, police and commandos who have sacrificed so much to liberate their country," he added. 

The people of Mosul, specifically, endured vast physical injury, sexual predation and psychological trauma under ISIS, he said, adding that ISIS has exposed them to extraordinary violence.

Mosul Residents Resilient

But the people of Mosul are resilient, the colonel said. "The east side -- less than six months removed from intense ground combat operations -- is thriving in many areas," he told reporters. "I saw [it] with my own eyes again just three days ago."

On the west side, many of the areas the Iraqi forces liberated as recently as May already have rebounded, he added. "These people have endured extraordinary hardship, but they repair themselves and they're moving on, living their lives," he said. 

The task force commander said the coalition also is exceptionally proud of its partners, the Iraqi security forces. "They imposed their will on ISIS, and they continue to root out its remnants," he pointed out.

Iraqis Accomplished Massive Feat

"They stood strong through some very difficult days," Work said. "And we congratulate them on this massive feat that matters not only to Iraq, but the destruction of the so-called caliphate also matters to the security of the region and our world community."

That's why so many countries and unified action partners have lined up against the evil of ISIS, he added.

The Iraqis are liberating Iraqis, and they're attacking the common enemy, he said.

"They've already trounced ISIS in Mosul. They've retaken [nearly 29,000 square miles] of their country from ISIS," Work added. "Nearly 2 million Iraqis have returned to their homes across the country. And in Mosul alone, more than 350,000 children have returned to school."

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

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