The Los Angeles Times reports that "military officers here say a barrage of airstrikes over the last two weeks helped sever two crucial routes that the extremist militants used to funnel fighters and supplies from the Syrian border to Mosul, their self-declared capital in Iraq and most significant battlefield prize."
"U.S. commanders who help oversee the air war say the joint offensive with Iraqi Kurdish ground forces pushed back the Sunni Islamists' defensive line west of Mosul, recapturing territory and removing a key obstacle, at least for now, as military planners consider tactics for retaking the congested city as early as this summer."
"American and allied advisors are training and equipping Iraqi security forces expected to lead any major ground assault. But options appear limited given the woeful state of Iraq's army, White House resistance to any plan likely to cause heavy civilian casualties, and at least some support in the Sunni-dominated city for the occupying force."
"Although President Obama has repeatedly vowed not to reintroduce U.S. ground troops to Iraq, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress in November that he would consider deploying a limited number of U.S. Special Forces to help direct airstrikes and assist the Iraqi army in any assault on Mosul."