All systems are go on the “we are coming Nineveh” operations as further gains are made on western Mosul by Iraqi forces.
The continuous pressure and bombardment that Iraqi forces are placing on ISIS militants are paying off. With gains made on a regular basis, it is only a matter of time until victory is declared against ISIS militants. This revival of the Iraqi army following their collapse in 2014, couldn’t come at a better time. They have now reorganised and learnt from their mistakes to be one of the most formidable forces against ISIS in Iraq.
If one was to do a strategic and inventory comparison between the ISIS militants and Iraqi forces, it is easy to see why the latter has the upper hand. Firstly, the Iraqi Security Forces are made up of four main specialist units, including the Federal Police, the Iraqi army, the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces and the Iraqi Rapid Response Forces, who are tasked with different security operations. The total number of these different divisions currently operating in Mosul is in the thousands.
Secondly, as a result of these different units, more varied offensives can be launched more frequently, using diverse weapons that aid their aerial bombardments and strategic ground offensives. For example, joint task forces have carried out special night raids every evening, through which the command and control systems of the terrorist group becomes tattered.
ISIS militants on the other hand find themselves handicapped for two main reasons. Firstly, ammunition and food supplies are very low which by itself, if left alone, will by its nature force ISIS to give up or die of starvation. This lack of food, however, is also effecting the trapped 300,000 civilians who are also starving. This is why the liberation of western Mosul is also vital in carrying out as soon as possible.
Secondly, they are relying on a failed strategy. One of their leading from of attack is the use of suicide bombers who attempt to cross behind enemy lines. This is done in two main ways, firstly using “Suicide Vehicle Based Improvised Explosive Devices” SVBIEDs and secondly, by posing as Iraqi forces personnel. These tactics work occasionally. However, this means there are fewer militants available to hold strategic locations. This then allows for Iraqi Security Forces to gain more ground, thus further limiting the types of attacks that can be launched.
From a high of six to eight thousand militants at the beginning of the Mosul operations over 200 days ago, to a now fleeting few hundred; it is easy to see that this war of attrition has taken an immense toll on ISIS.