US President Barack Obama today warned of a tough battle in Mosul but exuded confidence that Iraqi forces along with US-led coalition forces would be able to drive the Islamic State militant group out of the area.
"We are seeing the Iraqi forces, with the support of the coalition that includes the United States and Italy and other nations, moving forward and encircling Mosul," Obama told reporters at a joint news conference with the visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
"I'm confident that we can succeed, although it's going to be a tough fight and a difficult fight. It is Iraqis who are doing the fighting. They are performing effectively and bravely, and taking on significant casualties. There will be ups and downs in this process, but my expectation is that ultimately it will be successful," he said.
This he said will be a key milestone in what he committed to doing when ISIL first emerged.
"If in fact we are successful, how do we deal with what could be a humanitarian crisis? Because ISIL, when it occupies these territories, it bleeds them dry. It feeds off of them. It oppresses the local populations. It's not very good at governance. And so just basic functions like electricity or water start running down," Obama said.