Iraqi Armies Attack ISIS Capital
On Oct. 17, the Republic of Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, made a big announcement: military forces of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan would begin an assault on the outskirts of the ISIS-held city of Mosul.
“Today, [our forces] are closer than any time in the past to getting rid of ISIS’s injustices and tyranny,” al-Abadi said.
Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, is where ISIS declared the legitimacy of their Islamic state when they captured the city in June 2014. In addition to its strategic location, Mosul holds importance to ISIS as their primary hub of chemical weapon production. The city is also a major source of revenue for the terrorist group, with money coming from oil, the extorting of Mosul’s citizens, and the selling of women into slavery.
The armies liberating Mosul include 30,000 Iraqi government sponsored forces and 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen. Air support is being provided by the United States-led international coalition against ISIS.
The number of opposing ISIS troops is unknown, but estimates have ranged from 3,000 to 8,000. However, the Islamic State militants have been preparing. They have dug trenches to hinder enemy troop advancements and set up smoke screens to impede the vision of pilots. They have also booby trapped houses and placed truck bombs all throughout Mosul.
Since Nov. 4, when Iraqi forces entered and the battle was officially brought into Mosul, inhabitants have been trapped in a warzone. Mosul’s one million remaining citizens have been brutally treated at the hands of ISIS. From being killed or wounded in urban crossfire to women being forced to completely cover their bodies and people being executed without fair trial, residents have become scared to leave their homes. ISIS militants have purposely murdered those who have tried to flee, so civilians are desperate for protection.
The urban combat has been equally tolling on the Iraqi forces. While Iraq’s military does not release official death toll counts, according to NBC News, they have loaded entire Humvees with dead bodies.
According to the news website Vox, experts on Iraq are confident that the Iraqi military will liberate Mosul. Ryeshia Farmer, ’17, a political science major, agrees. According to Farmer, this is because the Iraqi forces and Kurdish forces are working together, which was not the case when I S I S took Mosul back in 2014.
But what will become of ISIS once they lose Mosul? “They will most likely disperse into several nearby areas,” said Farmer. “This raises some concerns, [because] that gives [ISIS] multiple occupied territories to operate from.” However, this dispersion gives ISIS the burden of defending multiple territories. The loss of resources at Mosul would add to the unlikeliness of ISIS being able to maintain those areas under their control.