Iraqi forces can retake the key northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) extremist group by the end of the year, a U.S. general says.
"It's the prime minister's objective to have that done by the end of the year," Joe Votel, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said on August 30. "My assessment is that we can meet the...prime minister's objectives, if that's what he chooses to do."
Votel added that the fight for Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, would be "hard and difficult."
Iraqi security forces, backed by the U.S.-led coalition against the IS group, have already started "shaping operations" around Mosul, including the capture of surrounding areas, he also said.
Last week, Iraqi forces pushed the extremist group from Qayyarah, a town considered strategic for any future offensive against Mosul.
Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters