Pentagon

ISIS fight stays the course for now under Trump, Army general says

Oliver North is on the frontlines of what could be the last major battle against ISIS in Iraq

 

Since President Trump became commander-in-chief, "our mission has not changed" in the battle against the Islamic State terror group, a senior U.S. Army general told reporters Wednesday from Baghdad.

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Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, said he has not received any change to his orders in prosecuting the ISIS war in Iraq and Syria. When asked if the military could do more to stop the terrorists, he responded, "Our role is where it needs to be right now."

Martin said there was a "significantly higher" operational tempo in the fight for the terror group's Iraq stronghold of Mosul. However, it started late last year when Iraqi forces supported by U.S. airpower started pushing ISIS out of many of their fortifications in the city, after a new offensive was launched. The operation to retake Mosul started more than three months ago.

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Pentagon officials told Fox News it was still too early for Defense Secretary James Mattis to recommend any changes to the ISIS fight as he gets ramped up in his new role.

The military's aistrike campaign was operating under standard orders from the Obama administration, Martin said.

Iraq's prime minister on Tuesday declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" from ISIS after a day of fierce fighting -- but U.S. officials warn the battle for western Mosul might be even more challenging.

Iraqi forces drove Islamic State militants from one of their last bastions in the eastern half of the city, while aid groups expressed concern for the estimated 750,000 people still in the militant-held west.

In his weekly news conference on Tuesday, Haider al-Abadi hailed the "unmatched heroism of all security forces factions" and public support for the operation.

Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the IS's last urban stronghold in the country, fell into the hands of the extremists in the summer of 2014, when the group captured large swaths of northern and western Iraq.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.