Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 22 November 2016, 16:05 hrs, UTC, Post #34.
Reporters: Saif Hameed (Baghdad) and Stephanie Nebehay (Geneva) for Reuters.
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The noose around this northern Iraq city is tightening as U.S. and coalition aircraft destroyed another bridge across the Tigris River, cutting off more supply routes to ISIS/ISIL force occupying Mosul. Iraqi army and various militia forces are surrounding the city as the offensive slowly penetrates the heavily fortified enclave.
Here’s a description of the situation from Reuters reporters in the area:
“U.S.-trained Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service forces are pushing deeper into east Mosul, the last major city controlled by the Sunni hard-line group in Iraq, while army and police units, Shi’ite militias and Kurdish fighters surround it to the west, south and north.
Militants have steadily retreated into Mosul from outlying areas. The army’s early advances have slowed as militants dig in, using the more than 1 million civilians inside the city as a shield, moving through tunnels, and hitting troops with suicide bombers, snipers and mortar fire.
Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, said on Tuesday an air strike hit the number four bridge, the southernmost, in the past 48 hours.”
“This effort impedes Daesh‘s freedom of movement in Mosul. It inhibits their ability to resupply or reinforce their fighters throughout the city,” he said using an Arabic acronym for the militant group.”
The United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration expressed concern that the destruction of the bridges could obstruct the evacuation of civilians.
“That is a concern of IOM because this is going to leave hundreds of thousands without a quick way out of the combat,” spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.”
“The battle for Mosul, launched five weeks ago, is turning into the largest military campaign in more than a decade of conflict in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi military estimates around 5,000 Islamic State fighters are in Mosul. A 100,000-strong coalition of Iraqi government forces, Kurdish fighters and Shi’ite paramilitary units is surrounding the city.
Mosul’s capture would be a major step towards dismantling the caliphate, and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, believed to have withdrawn to a remote area near the Syrian border, has told his fighters to stay and fight to the end.”
No matter who eventually retakes Mosul, this city and its surviving residents will face years of rebuilding. The ongoing battle for Mosul will also impact the major economic base of northern Iraq–agriculture and oil. Iraq’s nightmare will continue for many years.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest