ISIS fighters have begun to fortify their self-proclaimed capital city of Mosul by digging trenches and erecting walls to prepare for an attack that is expected to take place this fall at the earliest.
They have “fortified the northern city of Mosul and started placing fortifications, some called ‘Caliphate fences,’ around the city for a fierce defense,” said Iraq’s Minister of Defense Khalid al-Obeidi, Rudaw reported Thursday.
Many have criticized President Obama for detailing plans to attack Mosul so far in advance.
“It’s very mystifying why this administration would reveal potential plans to retake Mosul,” Sen. Tom Cotton told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after the plans were laid out in February.
“If a private in Iraq had revealed this kind of planning inadvertently by leaving a plan in the chow hall or the gym, he might have faced a court-martial, but now its become a matter of policy that this administration is going to announce war plans in advance.”
Iraqi forces and militia are currently engaged in an operation to retake Tikrit from ISIS occupation, an effort that many are following closely as it will give an indication as to how they will fare in the battle for Mosul, a city that is 10 times larger.
They have opted to engage ISIS in Tikrit without the help of U.S.-led airstrikes, but things might be different when they go after the larger and more heavily defended capital.
“The information I have is that most of the terrorist commanders that fled from Tikrit, Diyala and Beiji have headed towards Mosul,” said Obeidi. “At the same time, the ISIS militants’ morale is not very high.”