WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Ash Carter is calling the start of Iraqi operations to liberate Mosul "a decisive moment in the campaign" to deliver a lasting defeat to the Islamic State group.
Carter says the United States and other members of the international coalition "stand ready to support the Iraqi Security Forces, Peshmerga fighters and the people of Iraq in the difficult fight ahead."
Carter expressed confidence in the Iraqis to prevail against the extremists and "free Mosul and the rest of Iraq" from the militants.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (HY'-dahr ahl ah-BAH'-dee) announced the start of the military operation on state TV on Monday. The offensive to drive IS from Iraq's second-largest city was widely anticipated to be the country's toughest battle since American troops left nearly five years ago.