Iraqi forces have retaken about a quarter of the ISIS-held city of Mosul, an approach that is moving slowly because of a “360 degree” threat from the group, including car bombs and tunnels. US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said Wednesday that Iraqi forces have claimed about half or more of the eastern side of the city with a heavy fight expected as they move west. “I believe the enemy is faced with a very stark choice,” Townsend said. “If he wants to fight and die, then he’s made that decision, he’ll stay there. If he wants to get out to try to fight again another day, if he wants to get out to try to go back home and stop fighting, he’s going to have to make that choice soon as the Iraqi Security Forces approach.” US and coalition airstrikes have killed or seriously wounded more than 2,500 ISIS fighters since mid-October, and strikes targeting the group’s financial operations have cost the group between $4.5 million and $6.5 million per month. “We’ve conducted various strikes out there,” Townsend said. “I don’t require a lot of justification for doing that. There is ISIL out there that needs killin’, so we’re killin’ them.”
As the Pentagon increasingly pivots its focus to strategic competition with China, the U.S. will look to expand its partnership with South Korea to increase security across the entire Indo-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said Dec. 2 during a visit to the northeastern Asian nation.