Obama: Mosul Key Step to 'Ultimate Destruction' of ISIS

U.S. president says Islamic State will be defeated in Iraqi city, but expects tough fight.

A U.S army soldier stands with his weapon at a military base in the Makhmour area near Mosul during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, October 18, 2016.Alaa Al-Marjani, Reuters

US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that extremist group Islamic State would be defeated in the operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul, in "another step toward their ultimate destruction."

Obama said it would be a "difficult fight," with both advances and setbacks.
The United States will be involved in ensuring humanitarian aid for up to a million civilians who may flee the city, he said at a press conference.

Smoke billowing from the city of Nineveh, near Mosul, as Iraqi forces take part in an operation against the Islamic State (ISIS) group. Safin Hamed, AFP

The Iraqi army launched on Monday what is expected to be a lengthy offensive to dislodge the terrorist organization from the city.

Iraqi officials and local media on Tuesday reported continued advances against Islamic State on front lines around Mosul.

Military officials said troops had recaptured the town of Qaraqoush, some 15 kilometers south-east of Mosul on the east bank of the Tigris.

Islamic State militants had withdrawn from the town before the military entered it, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Qaraqoush was the largest Christian settlement in Iraq before it fell to Islamic State in August 2014.