It is eight months now since Iraqi forces all but collapsed in the face of marauding ISIL fighters, abandoning their weapons and uniforms as the group conquered Iraq's second largest city of Mosul.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces are now preparing for an offensive to recapture the city.

They are being trained by the US for what the Pentagon is describing as a "pivotal battle in the overall campaign in Iraq".

US Central Command says up to 25,000 troops are being assembled for the Mosul campaign, to take on 1-2,000 ISIL fighters.

The US military will provide training, air support, intelligence and surveillance. There has been no decision on whether to send in ground troops.

The Pentagon has taken the unusual step of announcing the timing of the upcoming offensive, set for April or May, reflecting the "confidence of Iraq".

So is the Iraqi army ready for battle, is it capable of driving ISIL out of Mosul, and what will such a victory signal for the wider fight? 

Presenter: Martine Dennis

Guests:

Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi - Fellow at the Middle East Forum and specialist on ISIL.

Ismael Alsodani - a retired Iraqi brigadier-general. 

Alaa Makki – Iraqi member of parliament and representative of the Wataniya Alliance in Iraq's Kurdish region.

Source: Al Jazeera