Islamic State (ISIS) militants will switch tactics and attack from the mountains and deserts if they are dislodged from the city of Mosul, a Kurdish intelligence official said.
Director of the Kurdistan Region’s Protection and Information Agency, Lahur Talabani, said there were signs that ISIS was planning to shelter in the Hamrin Mountains in the northeast of Iraq.
He also mentioned five attacks on Iraqi security forces by the militants in Diyala province in January.
“It is a very tough terrain. It is very difficult for the Iraqi military to control,” Talabani said during an interview with Reuters published on Thursday (February 16).
“It’s a good hideout place and a place they could have access from province to province without getting detected,” he continued.
Talabani also expressed concern that another group similar to ISIS could manifest in Iraq if political leaders failed to secure reconciliation between sects.
“… maybe not Daesh [ISIS], but another group will pop up under a different name, a different scale. We have to be really careful,” the intelligence official said. “These next few years will be very difficult for us, politically.”
“Mosul will get taken … I think it is the asymmetric warfare that we need to be worried about,” he said.
“Our jobs will become much more difficult. The army will take a rest a little, but it will be the job of security forces that will become more difficult,” Talabani added.
Talabani also said Iraqi forces have months of street-to-street and house-to-house fighting ahead of them before the western side of Mosul is regained from the militants.
The campaign to capture Mosul started on October 17, with air and ground support from a U.S.-led coalition.
U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces dislodged ISIS militants from the eastern side of Mosul last month, their last city stronghold in Iraq, and are preparing an offensive on the parts of the city that lie west of the Tigris River.