The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is in the process transforming their self-proclaimed Iraqi capital Mosul into a moated city by digging trenches and constructing other forms of fortifications around it.
Iraqi troops and Iran-backed Shiite militias have been fighting against ISIS to retake the Iraqi city of Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein and the capital of Salahuddin province located north of Baghdad.
The U.S.-led coalition reportedly sat out the Tikrit offensive.
Seizing Tikrit from ISIS is strategically important because it would facilitate any future operation to retake Mosul by opening a major supply route for anti-ISIS troops.
The U.S. is helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces prepare for an offensive to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the largest city held by ISIS.
U.S. officials predict that capturing the city will take months and deal a decisive blow against the jihadist group.
The Mosul offensive is not expected to start until the fall at the earliest.
In the meantime, the U.S.-led coalition will intensify airstrikes against ISIS targets in and around the city, U.S. officials said.
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