Mosul Offensive in Iraq 'Ahead of Schedule' at Start, Fight Could Get Tougher

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook discusses the initial start of the Iraqi government's push to retake the ISIS held city.
5:30 | 10/17/16

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Transcript for Mosul Offensive in Iraq 'Ahead of Schedule' at Start, Fight Could Get Tougher
Kenneth Starr with an update on Ken rational operations. Our first highlight significant progress in northern Syria where Turkish backed Syrian opposition forces supported by the coalition. Liberated six towns and villages from my soul including the town of did beak. Streams of peak over the weekend holds military and symbolic significance. To beak was so important Geisel propaganda machine of the terror group's magazine was named after this town. I so carried out barbaric atrocities in Thabeet and even claim that its final victory will take place there. Instead its forces had been defeated in to be just as they've been from territory across Syria and in Iraq. We applaud the Turkish and Syrian opposition forces took part in the battle to liberate the people did beat from my slow oppression. As you sun a secretary steaming yesterday we protect the appreciate the close coordination we've had with Turkey in this effort. Now this morning Iraq as announced by prime minister a body Iraqi Security Forces with the support of the counter rights a coalition. Begin operations to liberate Mosul they started moving at 6 AM Baghdad time. This is a decisive moment in the town are so campaign. It is in Mosul that muscles leader chose to announce its so called cal fate. Mosul is also historically diverse multiethnic multi sectarian set city precisely the opposite device was hate filled ideology. So Mosul carries a great deal of symbolic importance in this fight as well. But more than a symbol Mosul is also a city of more than a million people over two years I still has brutalized the city's population. Committing horrific atrocities this is a fight to free hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis from muscles rule. This fight is taking place with a Rockies firmly in the league including thousands of Iraqi Army personnel. Counterterrorism forces and federal police. Kurdish fresh murder and Sunni tribal forces Ross are playing a critical role in this fight. They have the support of an international counter rice a coalition of sixty nations led by the United States. Providing about advice and assistance logistical support intelligence and precision airpower. The coalition is conducted more than 54000 training cycles in for Iraqi Security Forces. It has conducted more than 101000 precision strikes in Iraq. Including more than seven in the Mosul area just this month and Iraqi forces will have the continued support of the coalition as they move forward. The role of US and coalition forces will continue to be one of supporting the ISF. We are on the first they've always who will be a difficult campaign that could take some time. Early indications are that Iraqi forces have met their objective so far and that aren't they are ahead of schedule for this first day. This is going according to the Iraqi plan but again it's early and the enemy gets a vote here. We will see whether I shall stands and fights we are confident no matter what however that the Iraqis have the capabilities to get this job done. We stand ready support them along with the rest of the coalition. It is in our interest that they succeed. And we will do or we can't. To help them. First of all just. To putting context again we have as we've talked about about 5000 US forces in Iraq. At this time all part of this effort. Part of the coalition to defeat iso. Many of those people are in. Enabler roles they may be trainers. We've talked about the twelve about twelve Iraqi brigades that have been trained for this fight. Again many the US forces had been part of that effort. We have a number of people providing logistical support to this effort. We've talked a lot about the effort to to put key are Q west into position to be sort of a forward staging area for this fight. That's a good example some logistical support is being provided at each of these locations of course there might also beef needs for Force Protection those are some of the US forces. And we have some people in train advise and assist mission as well. It with Iraqi forces they've been primarily up to this point as we've indicated at the headquarters level. The commander there general towns and has had the authority to. Use advisors at a lower level. I'm he has not to this point use that very sparingly and has the course of this fight plays out he'll determine what. Are appropriate use of our forces are in that context but American given specific numbers today protect in the first day of this. This effort but he will use that judiciously and again we've we've also separately. Of course been providing and advise and assist. Roles with the vote to counter terrorism service separate from the conventional Iraqi Army. As well as the patch Murray and will continue to do that. With Americans in support role providing advice and assistance to. Those forces as they conduct their operations. US specifically as well about. The apaches my understanding on the apaches is they have not been used is so far in this effort but the apaches are capability. A very potent capability that we are prepared to use. Should it be should it did be deemed to by the commanders and the Iraqis. That this is something that a capability that would make a difference in this fight on our emphasize that each and every one of these decisions. Our decisions that we are reaching with the Iraqis we are not doing anything in this fight without the consents. An approval of the the government.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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