Mosul Battle Symbolizes Iraq’s Fragile Statehood — Dec 17, 2016

After early advances, the effort to retake Mosul has bogged down. The battle symbolizes widespread disenchantment among many Iraqis with their dysfunctional and impotent government, and nostalgia for Saddam Hussein.


by RA in Basra — (   

A 30,000-man strong military offensive led by Iraqi security forces and supported by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen was launched last October to liberate the city of Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS).
Two months later and despite early achievements by Iraqi forces, the gruelling battle is far from over. Although assisted by US-led coalition warplanes and military advisers (and a very limited Turkish involvement), Iraqi troops are currently embroiled in a complicated urban fight with ISIS militants.
Mosul is Iraq’s second biggest city with a diverse population of 1.5 million citizens. As an industrial hub rich with oil fields, it is home to a motley collection of ethnicities and sects, chief among them: Arab Sunnis, Assyrian Christians, Kurds, Yazidis and Turkmen.
Government forces and their allies are confronting a resilient contingent of 6000-8000 ISIS fighters, as well as an intricate network of explosive devices, landmines and underground tunnels. Severe winter conditions, not unusual during this time of the year in northern Iraq, are not helping.
The battle has already taken a huge toll on armed forces and civilians alike. According to recent UN reports, nearly 2,000 Iraqi security forces were killed in November, most of them in Mosul. That comes on top of no less than 2,000 civilian injuries and casualties during the same period.
Additionally, more than 100,000 civilians have already fled their homes; up to one million people are at risk of being displaced. Residents are now either living without regular access to food, water and medical supplies or running the risk of being caught in the deadly crossfire.


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