Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using





How Ready Is the Coalition to Deal With the Predictable Results of a Battle for Mosul?

By Paul Iddon 8/2/2016
A Kurdish Peshmerga training in urban warfare under coalition military advisers in a camp near Erbil.
A Kurdish Peshmerga training in urban warfare under coalition military advisers in a camp near Erbil.

Once again there is talk about Mosul being liberated down the road. By June 2016 some of the latest estimates predict that the coalition will descend upon the largest city Islamic State (ISIS) ever took over, and from where they declared their so-called state, and pry it from their grip.

Prior estimates have proven embarrassingly wrong. It had been estimated that ISIS would be no more in Mosul by the spring of 2015. Which of course didn’t happen. Indeed in May of that year the group was not only still in place in Iraq’s second-city, but also managed to seize Ramadi. The destruction of a small number of ISIS forces holed-up in the center of that city last December was heralded as a victory. However the tactics used to do so cast a worrying shadow over the future of Mosul.

For the most part it seems heavy close air support and high reliance on elite Iraqi commando units was what destroyed the small ISIS contingent which remained in Ramadi. Heavy use of firepower to street-by-street did technically defeat the group there, but left over 80% of the city in smoldering ruins. Few of the residents will be able to return anytime soon.

And remember Ramadi is of only meager significance when compared and contrasted to Mosul. ISIS had only a few hundred of its men dug-in in the city center when December’s operation began. In Mosul, a much larger metropolis, ISIS may have up to 10,000 of its men. It’s far from clear. And it’s a much larger battlefield which ISIS has had much more time to properly fortify in anticipation for a ground assault.

When the battle for Mosul begins we’ll likely see something similar to Ramadi. Except on a much larger scale. Conventional Iraqi Army and Peshmerga units (the U.S. has promised to outfit two brigade-sized Peshmerga units with American weapons and tactical vehicles) will likely surround the city and enforce a blockade to interdict any ISIS members attempting to escape while special forces, possibly even with members of the famous American 101st Airborne Division, will go on the offensive covered by very close air support and then backed by a larger conventional force of Kurds and Iraqi regulars which will aim to hold and secure areas the special forces clear.

Such a heavy reliance on firepower coupled with an entrenched ISIS force ready and willing to fight to the death will likely see large swaths of Mosul reduced to rubble in the same way Ramadi was. This will, predictably, see another wave of refugees fleeing, many likely up north seeking sanctuary in the Kurdistan Region. Meaning that up to another one million internally displaced refugees may be based in that region for an undetermined period. Which would in turn mean that Kurdistan, a small enough region, will be hosting more internally displaced refugees than the total number of refugees hosted by neighbouring Turkey.

Presently there are tens-of-thousands more Syrians are fleeing northward from Aleppo towards Turkey. They are fleeing a Syrian ground offensive backed by heavy Russian air strikes which have devastated rebel positions in that urban center and may see the remaining civilians there flee. While Russian air strikes are far more ferocious and indiscriminate than U.S. ones their offensive on Aleppo follows a not too dissimilar strategy. Namely blasting a path forward for ground forces against an irregular enemy which relies on guerrilla tactics. Doubtlessly 80% or more of Aleppo will be left in ruins if and when the Russians help their Syrian allies rout out all the rebels from that large urban center.

This ongoing offensive in Aleppo should also serve as a forewarning for any Mosul offensive since it, like Mosul, is the country’s second-city. Rendering it largely uninhabitable, which is what it will likely take to completely destroy ISIS there, will result in many, if not most, civilians leaving. Again possibly for the neighbouring Kurdistan Region. It should therefore be incumbent upon the planners of Mosul’s liberation to put in place contingencies to help the Kurdistan Region deal with the predictable displacement this long anticipated battle will, more likely than not, bring about.  

Paul Iddon is a Rudaw reporter based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region.


J.DUPONT | 8/2/2016
The Kurds should not participate in any fight for Mosul.It could be a fatal blow for Kurdish aspirations for independence.Do not trust them.They want you only to die for the Arabs,the same Arabs who were and still are engaged in commiting genocide on Kurds.The Americans lie and will not fulfill their promisses anyway.Just remember present and old grievances and treasons.The Americans want the Kurds to die for Arabs.DECLARE INDEPENDENCE NOW,DO IT CINFIDENT.
Tags :

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Yassir Fekaiki
Yassir Fekaiki | 10/16/2018 10:13:15 PM
Thank Bafel talabany and his henchmen, how come no kurd is holding the traitors accountable?
mark bishop | 10/18/2018 7:27:40 AM
We have great respect for Masoud Barzani. But his statement on October 16 only gives us half of a message. He says that the events leading up to...
Kurds want justice a year after Iraq's takeover of Kirkuk
| 16/10/2018 | (6)
Jiyan | 10/18/2018 7:15:41 AM
Bahman Ghoubadi's films have had no good use for Kurds, they only belittle Kurds as premimitive and useless. I hope other filmmakers will be more...
Kurdish filmmakers need to be better storytellers: Amir Gholami
| 20 hours ago | (1)
haluk | 10/17/2018 4:53:04 AM
Around 1200 BC, different factors such as climate change, volcano eruptions, earthquakes and large scale migrations (the mysterious "sea people")...
Orxan | 10/17/2018 11:44:08 PM
This Is Assyria and mesopotamian history Kurds are Iranians, they do not belong in this land
Ancient lost city of Mardaman slowly gives up its secrets
| 16/10/2018 | (3)
Ian Birmingham | 10/17/2018 7:41:56 PM
As clearly demonstrated on 25 September 2017, 93% of KRG voters favor independence from Iraq. PUK lied to and betrayed KRG on 16 October 2017,...
Burkan | 10/17/2018 9:57:41 PM
Where’s the sources for the conversations and meetongs that took place? Any third party or just what youclaim?
The fight for Iraq’s presidency: What happened on October 2?
| yesterday at 01:45 | (7)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Pipe connects Duhok with Mosul Dam to help dwindling supply in Kurdistan 6 hours ago |

Pipe connects Duhok with Mosul Dam to help dwindling supply in Kurdistan

It is clean water and we are connecting it to more
Rights group: Insulting the Turkish president shouldn't be a crime 7 hours ago |

Rights group: Insulting the Turkish president shouldn't be a crime

Four graduates of the Middle East Technical more
0.25 seconds