The commander of the international coalition fighting ISIS said Wednesday he expects the group’s main cities of Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, to be retaken within the next six months. US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, during a tour of Baghdad, said he expects to see the campaigns to retake the two cities conclude within six months, according to The Associated Press. The coalition is still training and organizing Iraqi troops to retake the western half, Townsend said, and operations to retake that section will begin in the coming days. Coalition spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. John Dorrian said during a Wednesday briefing that he would not go into a specific timeline, just that Raqqa should be isolated in the next few weeks. “We’re not gonna give the exact timing of the effort to seize the city, but we do believe that excellent progress is being made and we’ll continue to pressure the enemy on multiple fronts.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.