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Mosul is more than a potentially climactic military battle

[...] on the line is the Obama administration's theory that the extremists can be defeated in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere without American ground troops doing the fighting. For more than two years, the administration has stuck to its argument that the only path to a sustained victory over the Islamic State group is for locals, not Americans or other outsiders, to bear the main responsibility for the fighting and for governing after the extremists are removed.
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