Middle East

Iraqi forces build up around Mosul ahead of expected push

  • In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 photo, a U.S. soldier, left, prepares to launch a drone in a joint base with Iraqi army on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. Reverberations from President Donald Trump’s travel ban and other stances are threatening to undermine future U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation, rattling a key alliance that over the past two years has slowly beaten back the Islamic State group. Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has sought to contain public anger sparked by the ban and by Trump’s repeated statements that the Americans should have taken Iraq’s oil, as well as his hard line against Iran, a close ally of Baghdad. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

    In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2016 photo, a U.S. soldier, left, prepares to launch a drone in a joint base with Iraqi army on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. Reverberations from President Donald Trump’s travel ban and other stances are threatening to undermine future U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation, rattling a key alliance that over the past two years has slowly beaten back the Islamic State group. Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has sought to contain public anger sparked by the ban and by Trump’s repeated statements that the Americans should have taken Iraq’s oil, as well as his hard line against Iran, a close ally of Baghdad. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2016 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers move through Qayara West Coalition base in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. Reverberations from President Donald Trump’s travel ban and other stances are threatening to undermine future U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation, rattling a key alliance that over the past two years has slowly beaten back the Islamic State group. Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has sought to contain public anger sparked by the ban and by Trump’s repeated statements that the Americans should have taken Iraq’s oil, as well as his hard line against Iran, a close ally of Baghdad. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2016 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers move through Qayara West Coalition base in Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, Iraq. Reverberations from President Donald Trump’s travel ban and other stances are threatening to undermine future U.S.-Iraqi security cooperation, rattling a key alliance that over the past two years has slowly beaten back the Islamic State group. Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has sought to contain public anger sparked by the ban and by Trump’s repeated statements that the Americans should have taken Iraq’s oil, as well as his hard line against Iran, a close ally of Baghdad. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic, File)  (The Associated Press)

The Iraqi army says it's moving units south and west of Mosul ahead of an expected push to retake the city's western half from the Islamic State group in the final, decisive battle for the city.

Brig. Walid Khalifa, the deputy commander of the Iraqi Army 9th Division, said on Tuesday that his forces have been moving into place over the past two days.

Mosul's east was declared "fully liberated" in January — over three months since the Iraqi forces' operation to retake the city had started

At the start, Iraqi forces experienced swift gains but slow and grueling urban combat followed before all of eastern Mosul was liberated. The fight for the west — a densely populated urban area — is likely going to be more difficult.