Last week we focused on the Turkish incursion into Syria and this week we will focusing on the battle for the ISIS stronghold of Mosul in Northern Iraq, which was seized by ISIS in June 2014.
The combined offensive to retake Mosul began on 16th October 2016 and has involved a plethora of actors, with differing perspectives but a common cause. At the time of writing, the eastern part of Mosul is held by the Iraqi army. The fighting on the ground is being undertaken by the Iraqi armed forces, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and the People’s Mobilization Forces (PMF). The PMF are coalition of mostly Shia militias, but also includes a small number of Christians, Yazidi’s and Sunni Muslims. These are supported by the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTO-OIR), who are providing air support. Turkish trained Turkmen are also involved, despite protests from the Iraqi government. This complex alliance, involving the three major population groups of Iraq; the Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds, with minority groups, has maintained its cohesion as coordinated fighting force.
The battle has been a painstaking one, with ISIL offering a substantial and committed resistance. Since the operation to take the city began, there has been a major humanitarian operation to handle the displaced population of Mosul, with refugees being encouraged to head towards Irbil, where refugee camps have been set up. In October of last year, some refugees had headed into Syria’s Rojave region.
The battle for Mosul is likely to cause irreparable damage to the city and its surrounding area, much as was the case with Ramadi, where up to 80% of the city’s infrastructure was described and the bill for reconstruction put at a minimum of one billion US dollars.
Next week this blog will move to being posted on a Saturday, and will look at the third of three concurrent battles to take an ISIS stronghold: the battle for Sirte in Libya.
For more information regarding this week’s blog see:
Dr Carl Turner,