Defense officials confirmed that the Islamic State has been pumping reinforcements into Mosul during the battle that was launched in mid-October, but said the maintained level of militants there doesn't indicate a stalemate.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter dropped into Iraq on Sunday to thank U.S. forces and visit with regional leaders including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani, as well as Peshmerga fighters.
Carter toured Qayyarah West Airfield, a staging point and logistics hub for the operation to retake Mosul from ISIS, with Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"This hasn't been an easy fight, won't be an easy fight, but today I discussed it with Prime Minister Abadi. That was an excellent meeting with him. And it -- we agreed it's playing out pretty much according to the plan that he and I have been discussing together for these many months," Carter told reporters.