The Iraqi Army is putting on hold an offensive touted as the first phase of a campaign to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) militants.
Major General Najm Abdullah al-Jubburi said in a statement on April 6 that Iraqi forces were waiting for federal police units and extra local tribal fighters to hold territory after it is retaken.
That would free up his forces to go on the offensive against the insurgents, Jubburi said, dismissing what he described as efforts to disparage the army. "We do not want to use all our units to hold territory," he said.
Almost three weeks into the operation, Iraqi forces have retaken just three villages from IS forces in the Makhmur area, which is set to be a key staging ground for a future assault on Mosul, around 60 kilometers further north.
The faltering start has cast renewed doubt on the capabilities of the Iraqi Army, which partially collapsed when IS militants took over about a third of the country in 2014.
Based on reporting by Reuters