Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday it would take three months to remove Islamic State from Iraq, as US-backed forces battle to dislodge the militants from Mosul, their last major stronghold in the country.
Abadi had previously pledged the northern city would be retaken by the end of this year. But the operation has been slowed by concern to avoid casualties among civilians, who have mostly stayed in their homes rather than fleeing as was initially expected.
Asked to respond to comments by the commander of a US-led coalition supporting Iraqi forces that it would take as long as two years to eliminate Islamic State and its cells in Iraq and neighboring Syria, Abadi said:
"The Americans were very pessimistic. They used to talk about a really long period, but the remarkable successes achieved by our brave and heroic fighters reduced that. I foresee that in Iraq it will take three months."