For prime Iraqi commander, Mosul offensive is private battle

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Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, a top commander in the offensive against Islamic State in the Iraqi city of Mosul, peered through binoculars at flame safter his men shot dead an Islamic State suicide bomber.

Last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked Jubbouri to return home from the United States to help lead the fight against Islamic State, which swept through Mosul and other parts of northern Iraq in 2014 and imposed a reign ofterror.

Jubbouri left his family behind and his job at the National Defence University inthe United States and put on his military fatigues again at home.

Eager to avenge the deaths of his relatives and help stabilize Iraq, Jubbouri is trying to figure out ways to overcome the complex challenges of fighting Islamic State in Mosul, home to about one million people.

Iraqi forces can’t move heavy weapons and tanks through Mosul’s narrow streets, and Islamic State is using civilians as human shields to slow government advances, said Jubbouri, who served in Saddam Hussein’s army for decades.

Jubbouri, who moved to the United States in 2008, is acutely aware of the dangers posed by Islamic militants, and the sectarian animosities which have destabilized Iraq.

Even if Islamic State is defeated in Mosul, Iraqi leaders must ensure that the same ethnic and sectarian hostilities which helped Islamic State establish wide spread presence in the country do not creep up again.

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