BAGHDAD, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Britain's most senior commander in Iraq and Syria, Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, has called for members of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State to be patient over Mosul.
Jones said the Islamic State's hardened defense of Mosul proves Iraqi security forces need to show restraint over the ground offensive to fulfill Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's promise to minimize civilian casualties.
"What we have all got to then have is patience and what you want is the ISF to clear their way through the city in a deliberate manner," Jones told The Guardian. "They could hard charge their way through the city and there would be an awful lot of civilian casualties but it has been really impressive to watch Abadi downwards really care about civilian casualties. Therefore, they are taking a deliberate manner and trying to minimize their own casualties."
Jones said he expects the Islamic State to be cleared from all of Iraq's towns and cities by the second half of 2017. He said the forces fighting the Islamic State have made an "extraordinary amount of progress" in the past year.
Iraqi security forces, aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, Shiite militias and a U.S.-led international coalition, began a ground offensive on Oct. 17 to capture Mosul -- Iraq's second-largest city -- away from Islamic State control.
U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Sunday said coalition forces have helped Iraqi security forces recapture 55 percent of territory the Islamic State seized in 2014.
"They have now, with our support and that of our 68-country coalition, encircled Mosul and they're beginning to move into parts of Mosul," Rice told CNN.