AP FACT CHECK: Trump wrong that retaking Mosul not worth it

AP News
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Posted: Oct 19, 2016 11:29 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A claim from the final presidential debate and how it stacks up with the facts:

DONALD TRUMP: "We don't gain anything" by restoring Iraqi government control of Mosul. "Iran is taking over Iraq."

THE FACTS: Actually, "we" do. Mosul is Iraq's second-largest city and has been the Islamic State's main stronghold in Iraq for more than two years. The city that was once home to about 2 million people is believed to still have 1 million residents living under harsh Islamic State conditions. Forcing the extremists out of Mosul has been widely seen as an important step toward breaking the group's grip on northern Iraq and depriving it of its key revenue streams. Islamic State fighters had begun to flee the city in anticipation of an onslaught by Iraqi Kurdish forces and the Iraqi military.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said when the Iraqi assault began on Monday that it marked a "decisive moment" in the broader effort to defeat the Islamic State.

It is true that Iran has gained more influence in Iraq since the U.S. invaded to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003, but Iran is not in control of Iraq.

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Contributed by Associated Press National Security Writer Robert Burns.