An Iraqi-led operation to retake the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of Mosul is unlikely to take place this year, a top U.S. intelligence official said on February 9.
Marine Corps Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart was more pessimistic than other U.S. and Iraqi officials, who have vowed to move this year to liberate Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Baghdad announced plans to send thousands of additional troops to a base outside Mosul on February 9 in anticipation of an operation to liberate the city.
"Mosul will be a complex operation...I'm not as optimistic that we'll be able to turn that in the near term, in my view. Certainly not this year," Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"We may be able to begin the campaign, do some isolation operations around Mosul," he said. "But securing or taking Mosul is an extensive operation and not something I see in the next year or so."
Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. air strikes, reclaimed the city of Ramadi from the militant group in December. Mosul, however, is a far larger city.