Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says U.S. action in Iraq and Syria is not just a series of Band-Aid fixes in response to Islamic State activity, but rather is planned independently.
Criticism of the U.S. strategy against ISIS has centered around the so-called reactive nature, namely when ISIS surges, the U.S. scrambles to deploy more troops in response, The Washington Post reports.
Dunford categorically denied that’s the case, saying instead, “we are looking for opportunities to reinforce success, and we are looking for places where we can put in capabilities to accelerate Iraqi progress. That’s the criteria for putting more forces on the ground — not, ‘Things are going bad; we need more forces.'”
The next step is retaking the city of Fallujah in Iraq, although it may slightly delay the operation to go after Mosul, which is a major priority for the U.S. In fact, Dunford called it the top priority for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. At least for Mosul, the U.S. is willing to deploy an additional 217 military advisers to see the mission to completion. This would mean there would be 4,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.
Dunford said President Barack Obama hasn’t denied any of his requests for new troops and added troops are sent based on concrete operations, as opposed to reactions to ISIS movements.
The operation to take back Fallujah officially began early Monday.
“I am calling for citizens who are inside Falluja to leave their areas and head towards safe corridors,” military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool said, according to CNN. “In the coming few days, the operations to liberate Falluja will be launched.”
To warn citizens of impending warfare, Iraqi planes have dropped leaflets to encourage civilians to flee. ISIS, in turn, has been blocking the exits. Residents are now starting to face a serious food shortage, given that Fallujah has been under siege for some time.
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