U.S., Iraq planning offensive by Iraqi forces to reclaim territory from Islamic State

October 21 at 8:41 PM
The United States and Iraq are drawing up a campaign plan for offensive operations by Iraqi ground forces to gradually reclaim towns and cities that have been occupied by the Islamic State, according to a senior administration official.

The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces­ do not overextend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.

It may also include U.S. advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity under rules imposed by the White House. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Obama has said repeatedly that no U.S. ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.

With few exceptions, the Iraqi army has concentrated largely on defense and efforts to prevent the Islamic State from claiming ever-more territory since early June when the militant group took over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and began moving southward.

Despite some government gains, aided since early August by U.S. airstrikes, the militants control about one-third of Iraq, stretching from near Baghdad to the northwest, and across western Anbar province to the Syrian border.

 In August, Obama also authorized airstrikes against Islamic State targets in western and northern Syria. Over the past few weeks, world attention has focused on the Syrian town of Kobane, along the Turkish border, where Islamic State forces­ have threatened to overrun besieged Syrian Kurdish defenders.

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Plans to take back lost areas


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