Richard Engel on ISIS Fight: ‘We’re Gaining and We’re Also Losing at the Same Time’

‘What comes after ISIS? Does Assad get to stay in Syria? Does the government of Iraq fall apart?’

"We're gaining and we're also losing at the same time because if you look at the strategy that the U.S. military is leaking out through some reporters that there's gonna be this major offensive against Mosul involving 20,000 Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the way it's supposed to work -- and David Ignatius was absolutely right, I've been to some of those areas as well -- the Kurdish fighters are holding their ground in the outskirts of Mosul and the areas that are generally called Kurdistan.

But the Iraqi army, which is now fighting hand in glove with the Iranian military and that shouldn't be -- you can't hide fact that the Iranian military is deeply involved with the Iraqi military. The Iraqi military according to the plan is supposed to sweep up from the south and that's gonna pressure, squeeze ISIS in Mosul with the Kurds above them and the Iraqi troops moving in from the south.

But as you just said, the Iraqis are working with the Iranians and the people of Mosul don't really want to be liberated by Iranian backed Shia troops. So you have to also ask what comes after ISIS? Does Assad get to stay in Syria? Does the government of Iraq fall apart? Do the Kurds establish independence? All of these are very open questions so when you're talking about having an offensive to take territory, a lot of Iraqis and other people in the region are asking but who's actually gonna be taking the new territory if ISIS is pushed out?"

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