Associated Press photo

On October 17, the Iraqi military began its offensive to wrest Mosul from the control of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria two years after the terror organization seized the city. The rapid fall of Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city,  in 2014 was a disheartening defeat for Iraq’s security forces, and one that saw its soldiers lay down arms and flee in the wake of the terror group's advance.

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U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Tracci Dorgan

U.S. Apache helicopters have joined the battle for Mosul, launching night attacks against Islamic State fighters defending their last major stronghold in Iraq, a U.S. general said Wednesday

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Army photo by Spc. De'Yonte Mosley

Live streaming footage of the offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul appears to confirm what military officials had predicted in the months leading up to the operation: It’s going to be a long, complex, and bloody fight. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, as the Iraqi coalition inches closer to the city, a small contingent of American soldiers are playing an increasingly critical role.   

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