The campaign to retake Mosul began in early October. With an Iraqi/US coalition of 100,000 up against 5,000 ISIS militants, how could we fail?
The battle was supposed to be over in 60 days, but the fight is far from over. This week, a US commander announced a new phase in the fighting that will see American soldiers deployed even closer to the front lines.
PB originally predicted a bloody victory with a high civilian death toll. As the battle drew on, we realized just how ineffective the inexperienced Iraqi soldiers would be against the well-prepared militants in Mosul. When the Kurds and Shia units (the best fighters) failed to take part in the main attack, we predicted the operation would fail.
Iraqi soldiers have managed to retake about 25% of Mosul during the past two months, but the advance has been punishing. This week’s phase deploys US troops into Mosul proper – in a riskier combat role bigger than anything they’ve faced in years.
“Right now we’re staging really for the next phase of the attack as we start the penetration into the interior of east Mosul,” explains Lieutenant Colonel Stuart James.
James leads a combat arms battalion that will be assisting Iraqi troops on the southeastern front. He considers the risk level for US troops to be “moderate.”
The cadence of the upcoming phase will depend on ISIS resistance. “If we achieve great success on the first day…then it may go very quickly,” says James. “If Daesh fights very hard the first day and we run into a roadblock and we have to go back and go OK that was not the correct point of penetration, it may take longer.”
Increased and unprecedented integration between US and Iraqi troops will boost air support and help coordinate surveillance.
Mosul has been in ISIS hands since 2014. The beleaguered city of over one million is the largest city held by ISIS and the second largest city in Iraq. An Iraqi victory would be a crushing defeat for ISIS, and would “probably end the Islamic State’s ambition to rule over millions of people in a self-styled caliphate,” reports Newsmax.