Before the storm: the siege of Mosul becomes the key episode of the fight against ISIS

Nine days

The second half of the day on Tuesday, 25 October, special forces of the Iraqi army has finally reached the Eastern outskirts of the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq. More than two years one and a half city controlled by the militants of the “Islamic state” (LIH, a banned terrorist group). Last week Iraqi and Kurdish troops backed by Western countries launched an operation to liberate Mosul from the jihadists. Tuesday went to the ninth day of this offensive, which was prepared about six months.

As writes on Tuesday, the Reuters news Agency, trained by American specialists counter-terrorism units of the Iraqi special forces (CTS) stopped the attack and took position within two miles of the city limits of Mosul. According to the army command, a pause in the attack is necessary to the remaining coalition forces caught up to the city, thereby aligning the siege lines.

For example, part of the 30 thousand participating in the military attack as the second half of Tuesday were still 30 km South of Mosul: the speed of their movement in combat is only a few kilometers per day. According to the analytical center of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), in the southern group consists of several mechanized brigades, a Shiite militia and police forces.

In the North, with the support of the same Iraqi special forces CTS attack develop armed forces of Iraqi Kurdistan (the semi-independent education, with its capital in Erbil). According to the Kurdish news Agency Rudaw, during the day, on 25 October, Kurdish troops (Peshmerga) had captured the villages Batni, Khorsabad and Faillie, they are all 10 km away the city of Mosul to the North and North-East.

Develops in parallel the ISIS attacks in other parts of Iraq, trying to distract Baghdad from attack on Mosul. And if the invasion of Kirkuk managed to successfully recapture the town of al-Rutba, near the border with Jordan (450 km South-West of Mosul), the Islamists, according to Reuters, has already captured about half of the city’s neighborhoods.

Asymmetrical counterattack

On the night of Tuesday, the group of militants ISIS attacked the hostel the police Academy in the Pakistani city of Quetta (Balochistan province). The terrorists stormed into the barracks and were shot at dozens of people, after which two of the attackers blew himself up, another was killed by a hostel security guard shot in the head. According to recent reports, the attack killed 61 people, another 120 were injured.

Evidence that the attack on police Academy in Pakistan was the response to the attack on Mosul as the largest city under the control of ISIS, yet. The commander of the local branch of Frontier corps of Pakistan major General Sher Afghan is sure: “these are people from Afghanistan instructed the attackers and spoke to them.” On the other hand, notes The Guardian, ISIS is not likely to take responsibility in such a short time, just a few hours after the attack.

The world’s attention

The battle for Mosul is considered one of the largest military operation in Iraq since the invasion the us army and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Iraqi allies of the Western countries (especially USA and France) help the Baghdad air strikes on militant positions, as well as training of troops and military advisers.

“We clearly claimed that the Iraqi operation, they supervise, and they decide when and how to start the offensive. Our role, as we said, is to support the Iraqis through military training, provision of counsel and support equipment and other forms of assistance,” he said last Monday, the first day of the operation, the official U.S. state Department spokesman mark Toner.

A few days before that, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly expressed the intention of his country to participate in the upcoming offensive. The government of Iraq has refused Ankara in this and continued training on their own. However, on 24 October, when the operation was already in full swing, the head of the Turkish foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkish artillery in a few days killed 17 Islamists and willing to help the Iraqis develop the offensive.

More than 3 thousand of the Iraqi soldiers involved in the attack, and was trained at the Turkish military base near the town of BA’shiqah, just 30 km from the city limits of Mosul. “I know that the Turks want to take part in our operation. We thank them for that, but we emphasize that with this case the Iraqis will be able to cope on their own. If we need help we will ask it from Turkey or other regional powers”, — said at the weekend the Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi.

Repeated attempts by Turkey to interfere in the ongoing operation causes a sharp discontent in Iraq, and in recent days, the rhetoric between Ankara and Baghdad is on the verge of a war of words. However, in early October, the government of Iraqi Kurdistan reported that the opening of Turkish military bases and to attract Turkish advisers previously approved by Baghdad.

The Baghdad government represented the Shiite politicians ideologically close to Iran, while Turkey claims the title of regional leader of the Sunnis. “Iran and Turkey already have a tradition of tacit rivalry for leadership, explained CNN Ahmet Han, Professor at Istanbul’s Kadir has University. — Now the difference is that Turkey speaks a lot and loud, while Iran is not.”

One of the reasons why silent Tehran, the conflict in the Iranian leadership. According to the Financial Times, recently renewed fighting broke out over who would succeed to the spiritual leader Ali Khamenei. The elderly Ayatollah runs Iran since 1989, and a new round of struggle is associated with the expectation of U.S. presidential elections, their outcome will determine what will be the policy of Washington against Tehran, which only freed from us sanctions.

Thus, if a year ago, the experts noted that a battleground for influence between the regional powers of the Middle East was Syria, since the beginning of operation against ISIL in Mosul they get Iraq. Talking about it, and the recent visits to Baghdad and Erbil the head of the Pentagon, ash Carter and the Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Leuven. In both cases, the parties agreed to increase the contingent of military advisers the United States and Sweden in Iraq.

It is also noteworthy that Ankara calls for Turkish Kurdish separatists, the Syrian Kurds to be terrorists and thus successfully interact with the Iraqi Kurds. An example is the oil pipeline Kirkuk — Ceyhan capacity of more than 600 thousand Barr. a day. It to Turkey to bypass Baghdad authorities receives oil from the districts of Iraqi Kurdistan. Baghdad has always protested against the independent action of Erbil in the international arena, for fear of violation of its sovereignty.

Two fates

Since the second week of operation Iraqi ground troops advanced close to the Mosul, the US air force working ahead of the curve, are already over the city’s neighborhoods of the metropolis.

On Tuesday, the General staff of Russia stated that the us air force the past few days, firing at residential neighborhoods and schools in the city of Mosul. Source International Business Times in the Pentagon called such reports “questionable.” Last weekend, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin compared the situation in Mosul and the Syrian Aleppo (located more than 500 km West of Mosul): “of course, We can now specify our partners to Mosul and to say that there is also a lot of civilians lives, hundreds of thousands of people, and the use of aircraft and artillery is very dangerous from the point of view of potential victims.”

On Tuesday, the Russian military has reported that for the past week, the Syrian air force and the Russian space forces successfully support a unilateral truce and it does not cause air strikes on the besieged Eastern Aleppo. Once Syria’s largest city of Aleppo is now partly under the control of armed opposition groups (some of them are recognized as terrorist in Russia) that are besieged by the government army.

Thursday in Aleppo is a humanitarian operation to evacuate civilians, and Moscow has regularly extended “silent mode”. Despite this, taken in late September the decision to send in the Mediterranean, the aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” (the only Russian aircraft carrier) had not been cancelled. On 15 October she departed Murmansk by the end of this week should reach the coast of Syria.

This will be the eighth long-range cruise of the aircraft carrier a quarter of a century of service and the first after the two-year modernization at the docks. In September it was reported that the Syrian cruise ship will last until at least January 2017. According to the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, the carrier can be used to “enhance air strikes on Aleppo”.

Based group of aviation “Admiral Kuznetsov” consists of deck-based fighters su-33 and MiG-29 — the last is a multi-role fighter, capable of striking targets on the ground. Between Aleppo and the Syrian base of logistics Russian Navy in Tartus about 200 km, while the combat radius of the aircraft “Admiral Kuznetsov” up to almost 1000 km.