The most important battle thus far in the effort to push back ISIS has reportedly begun in Northern Iraq. The city of Mosul, held by militants of the Islamic State for over two years now, may be liberated in the coming weeks, if everything goes to plan:
CNN's Nick Paton-Walsh, who is embedded with a Peshmerga convoy near Mosul, said he was witness to "staggering scenes" as forces advanced about 6 kilometers towards the city, with sporadic fighting erupting as they encountered pockets of ISIS fighters. The anti-ISIS coalition greatly outnumbered their opponents, and had the benefit of calling in air support from the nearly 90 coalition and Iraqi planes involved in the operation whenever they met resistance, he said.
ISIS was able to seize Mosul in June of 2014 when Iraq’s central government in Bagdad made what many observers, with the benefit of hindsight, might call unwise decisions regarding the city and its future. Not longer after it fell, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the Caliphate from the city’s historic Grand Mosque. Mosul has been firmly in the grip of Islamic State extremists ever since.
Losing control of Mosul would be the biggest setback yet for the violent, fundamentalist group that grabbed worldwide attention when it erupted from the chaos of war torn northern Iraq and eastern Syria a few years ago. But analysts estimate it could take anywhere from a several weeks to several months to move in and clean out all ISIS fighters. The NYT has a good map and explanation of the likely course of events to reverse that loss.