Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 28 February 2017, 22:45 hrs, UTC, Post #127.
Accessed on 28 February 2017, 22:45 hrs, UTC.
Reporters: Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli (Reuters).
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One hundred thousand (100,000) Iraqi soldiers, special forces personnel, and police units, backed by U.S. airpower and ground-based advisers, are closing in on ISIS/ISIL fighters holded up in government buildings in the western section of Mosul. Meanwhile, thousands of refugees are fleeing the city, just ahead of another attack aimed at dislodging Islamic State fighters west of the Tigris River.
The current offensive has been costly, especially for jihadists holding on to the last strong points in Mosul. Ground commanders estimate that ISIS/ISIL losses have exceeded 45,000 soldiers. There aren’t enough replacements entering the city to compensate for the high attrition suffered by ISIS/ISIL forces.
Reuters correspondents Isabel Coles and Maher Chmaytelli offer this assessment of the ongoing battle for Mosul:
“Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19.
If they defeat Islamic State in Mosul, that would crush the Iraq wing of the caliphate the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared in 2014 over parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria. The U.S. commander in Iraq has said he believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture both Mosul and Raqqa – Islamic State’s Syria stronghold – within six months.”
“The provincial council and the governorate building are within the firing range of the Rapid Response forces,” a media officer with the elite Interior Ministry units told Reuters, referring to within machine gun range or about 400 metres (1,300 feet).
Taking those buildings would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the nearby old city centre and would be of symbolic significance in terms of restoring state authority over the city.
U.S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) units battled Islamic State sniper and mortar fire as they moved eastwards through Wadi al-Hajar district to link up with Rapid Response and Federal Police deployed by the riverside, in a move that would seal off all southern access to the city.”
Although the Battle for Mosul is far from over, ISIS/ISIL forces have suffered significant personal, equipment, and supply losses. Iraqi commanders indicate that army forces will press on past Mosul in the coming months to cut the self-proclaimed Islamic State in half. Whether this signifies the death knell for ISIS/ISIL is unknown because isolated jihadist forces can always flee to the desert to fight another day. But, for now, the tide of battle is turning against ISIS/ISIL.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest