Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Battle for Mosul: Concept Versus Reality

There are former officers of Saddam’s army among ISIL fighters who are natives of Mosul and who perfectly know the city and its communications. This fact makes storming of the city almost an impracticable task. Among the enlisted personnel of ISIL there is a significant number of fighters who have experience of conducting urban warfare in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya, and Syria. These people know all about warfare in an urban environment. The western media draw the Islamic State terrorist as wild, cruel and stupid. Such light-mindedness in the enemy’s assessment already leads to casualties. In less than a month of combat in the suburbs of Mosul, in areas with a civilian population loyal to the government coalition, there have already been more than 3000 people killed and wounded, 22 tanks, and more than 120 lightly armored vehicles destroyed.

Defense of the city by ISIL is conducted in due regard for the tenants of military science. The city has been under the control of ISIL for a long time and is respectively prepared in regard to the engineering of defensive positions. As the Iraqi military has repeatedly attempted to storm Mosul in the past, IS commanders have surely carried out measures to strengthen the most vulnerable sites of defense. Tactical methods of ISIL fighters are characterized by quick maneuvering in a square with use of these prepared avenues of approach, ambushes and traps. Grenade launchers (RPG-7, RPG-18, RPG-22) are used in large quantities and mortars are more rare in the conditions of fighting in the city. In the areas where the enemy is most likely to appear, mines traps and land mines are already prepared. On highways, ISIL uses VBIED and long-range artillery in large quantities. The nature of these attacks demoralizes the opponent, and reduces the rate of his offensive. As camouflage security from air strikes, and also with the purpose to complicate overcoming defense of the city, holes and trenches with oil products are set on fire. From the beginning of the latest Mosul operation, IS conducted a counterattack near the city of Kirkuk, in an effort to bleed resources away from the coalition’s efforts against Mosul.  Similar attacks were made in 2015 and 2016 to distract attention away from the city. IS uses long-range artillery, including shells filled with mustard gas and chlorine in areas which are attacked by peshmerga units. On October 20, 2016 Islamic State terrorists arranged an act of sabotage in Al-Mishraq, at a sulfur plant. This action resulted in the mass poisoning of civilians. ISIL is also using civilians as human shields to prevent air strikes.

Apparently the US no longer believes that the Iraqi Army can take Mosul. There are rumours they will deploy more US ground forces.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, December 6th, 2016.]

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