President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will strategize about the upcoming offensive to take back the northern city of Mosul when they meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Increasingly, and not without irony, Iraq has become the bright spot in Obama’s campaign against the Islamic State group, though profound challenges remain. In neighboring Syria, the chaotic civil war continues to plague efforts to defeat IS extremists, but in Iraq, cooperation with Abadi’s forces has helped the U.S.-led coalition wrest back half the territory that IS once held, according to the U.S.
Yet a key city remains under IS control: Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the extremist group’s stronghold in the country. An intensely difficult urban fight to oust IS from Mosul is expected to ramp up in the next two to three months, following recent victories in reclaiming other Iraqi cities including Fallujah and Ramadi.
Obama’s meeting with the Iraqi leader marks the start of a hectic week of diplomacy as he makes his final appearance as president at the annual U.N. gathering.