General John Allen is the White House point man for the international coalition to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He spoke in Washington DC on Tuesday about that effort and here’s a wrap of his most interesting comments:
Allen confirmed where retraining for the Iraqi security forces will happen. Until now it has been a matter of some speculation. He said sites in Anbar province, Taji, Erbil, and south of Baghdad were being prepared.
Asked about the demand by Turkey for a no-fly zone on its border with Syria, Allen said that while that had once been a precondition for greater Turkish involvement, the “conversation has changed”.
A couple of weeks ago we heard the US commander for Africa say ISIL had a training camp in eastern Libya. Allen today said intelligence is trying to determine whether that camp has been set up by elements of ISIL from what he called the proto-state (in Iraq/Syria) or by homegrown radicals seeking legitimacy in calling themselves ISIL. So the jury is still out.
Lastly he slow-rolled any rush to fight for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city that ISIL took control of in June, saying it will be the “climactic battle in Iraq”. Using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, Allen said the timing of the attack has to be very seriously considered “so that Daesh, when it feels the weight of the counteroffensive, it is unable to resist”.