Iraqi forces in Mosul see deadliest urban combat since World War II

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State to liberate Mosul are suffering heavy casualties in the deadliest urban combat since World War II, according to top U.S. commanders for the Middle East.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday that 774 Iraqi troops were killed and 4,600 wounded since the Mosul offensive began in October.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops are battling several thousand Islamic State militants holed up in their last major stronghold in Iraq.

The casualty statistics, released for the first time, highlight the difficulty of fighting in a densely populated city where the militants have had several years to build up complex defenses.

“This is the most significant urban combat to take place since World War II,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top coalition commander, said this week. “It is tough and brutal.”