• March 02, 2015
  • FOX & Friends - FOX News

ISIS-Occupied Mosul Will Have to Wait, Per Pentagon

Robert J. O'Neill On the Record

Fight is on in Tikrit, with U.S. Targeting ISIS from the Air.

While the Pentagon has, for now, put the brakes on plans to take back the Iraqi city of Mosul from the grip of ISIS, U.S. military has jumped in on another heated fight: in Tikrit.

Tikrit, hometown of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, is embroiled in its own battle to keep ISIS at bay. U.S. participation, which involves targeted airstrikes aimed at ISIS insurgents, is a complicated one, with U.S. forces fighting alongside Iranian-backed militia in a joint-military effort to support Iraqi troops.

Sitting down with FOX News Channel's Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Peter Johnson, Jr. and Brian Kilmeade, former Navy SEAL Rob O'Neill offers his take on these complex events:

Hasselbeck: "Describe what you know about what's going on?"

O'Neill: "What I know is that there was a plan to retake Mosul, which is the largest city held by ISIS. There were some people not happy about that being released, so I think Tikrit is sort of a see what we can do…see if we can get the Shia-backed army to fight with the Sunnis who are part of the town. So it's kind of a precursor to what might happen in Mosul later this summer."

Kilmeade: "How important is Mosul? There have been plans to take it, not take it. Where do we stand on that?"

O'Neill: "Mosul is very important because it's almost like a divine thing. Part of the caliphate. When they took Mosul they could declare a caliph. That's their spot…the most populated city that ISIS owns so it's very symbolic. Tikrit I think is more of a let's see if this works."

Hasselbeck: "Can Mosul be taken without American forces on the ground?"

O'Neill: "I don't think so, and I think we have American forces on the ground. Right now their rules of engagement will be very restricted. They won't be authorized to get into direct combat but we have people there on the ground working with the Sunnis, the Shia and the Kurds to direct some of our air power."

Johnson: "How long is taking Tikrit going to take if it goes well?"

O'Neill: "If it goes well it should take maybe a few weeks. It depends on what kind of coalition we get on the ground."

Kilmeade: "On Iraqi television the prime minster came out and said, 'Even if you fought with ISIS or let ISIS in, if you put down your arms now, you're not going to face any redemption'."

O'Neill: "See, that's such an issue because if they let the Shiites come in, they possibly face atrocities for what they might have done to the Shia."