Upstart: Fretting over Mosul ?

Click on this link and see all the video reports of grateful families leaving their neighborhoods to safety.

Video link   Be assured, Mosul is settled.


Don961:  Iraqi Army breaks apart tiny ISIS pocket in Mosul as battle enters final stage

By  Chris Tomson  19/05/2017

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:45 A.M.) – The Iraqi Armed Forces are moving ever closer to complete victory in the country’s second largest city after government troops spearheaded new key advancements on the western bank of the Tigris River on Thursday.

After liberating four neighborhoods earlier in the week, the Iraqi Army continued its blitz offensive by taking control of the Al-Rafaee district around noon.

Then, on Thursday afternoon, the Counter Terrorism Units began storming the Al-Najar neighborhood parallel to the Tigris River, thereby isolating the Old City and Al-Zanjali districts from a handful of ISIS-held suburbs to the north.

Should the Iraqi Armed Forces seize control of the Al-Najar neighborhood entirely, they would secure Mosul’s northern 5th bridge and deal a devastating blow to ISIS insurgents.

However, Iraqi contingents did not stop there as the Federal Police and Rapid Response Division proceeded to liberate the adjacent Al-Aqtasadeen neighborhood, an urban advance which reduced Islamic State control of Mosul city to less than 5%.

In addition, Iraqi troops liberated the ancient Christian monastery in the historically Assyrian Hawi Al-Kanisah area in northwestern Mosul and capture most of the vital ’17th Tammuz’ district.

Around 500 ISIS militants remain held up in the city, most of which are concentrated around the densely populated Old City neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Amaq Agency published a 40-minute Islamic State propaganda video depicting the battle for Mosul from the jihadist perspective.

Click here for a recent battle map of Mosul.



​Don961:  Thousands of U.S. forces may still be needed for post-ISIS Iraq

By Carlo Muñoz – The Washington Times – Thursday, May 18, 2017

The U.S. may need to keep as many as 20,000 troops and other military personnel in Iraq, even after the Islamic State is driven out, to stabilize the country, the former head of the Pentagon’s policy shop said Thursday.

A postwar force of between 4,000 to 8,000 American troops “is probably sufficient” to help local security forces ensure security in Iraq as ISIS faces defeat in its final stronghold in Mosul, Eric Edelman, the Pentagon’s top policy official during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview.

The U.S. forces would likely be deployed as advisers, not combat troops, to support Iraq’s police and military forces, he said.

“We are dealing with an an ISIS that is severely, severely weakened” after nearly two years of constant war against U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces, said Mr. Edelman, who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a Washington-based defense think tank.

The 5,000 to 20,000 troops called for in the report would provide enough military support for Iraqi forces to hold their own on the conventional battlefield and battle ISIS remnants with a classic counterinsurgency strategy.

The 5,000-man footprint tracks closely the troop levels authorized by President Obama when U.S. operations against ISIS in Iraq began in 2014. The high-end estimate would match the U.S. invasion force sent into Afghanistan in 2001

U.S. and Iraqi officials say ISIS has lost nearly all its territory in the country and is poised to lose its Iraqi capital of Mosul. As battlefield and territorial losses mount, the group may be returning to its insurgent roots.

“There is an imperative for some kind of residual U.S. military presence in Iraq,” to ensure an ISIS-led insurgency does not drive the country back into the bloodshed and violence that engulfed the country during the darkest days of the American war, the report’s author and CSBA Senior Fellow Hal Brands said.

Negotiations have begun between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and U.S. officials in Baghdad on a new status of forces agreement, or SOFA, which will outline the legal and diplomatic parameters underpinning a long-term U.S. military presence in the country.

Mr. Edelman and Mr. Brands said the remaining U.S. forces will provide Mr. Abadi political cover against opponents of a long-term military mission in Iraq. Influential Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr vehemently opposes any American deployments into postwar Iraq. Other Iranian-backed Shi’ite groups are also lining up against an extended U.S. mission in the country.

Mr. Abadi will likely forgo a parliamentary vote on any SOFA deal and issue an agreement via executive action, Mr. Edelman said. The inability by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to push a SOFA deal through parliament resulted in the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country in 2011.

“My hope is the experience of 2014 may prove that … it may be worth paying a political price for keeping U.S. forces in the country,” Mr. Brands added, regarding acceptance of a prolonged American presence by Iraqis.

Iraqi Shia will likely remain split over support for the U.S. postwar mission, while Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds will embrace the deal, since they see American forces as a necessary “balance against Iranian influence,” Mr. Edelman added.

Tehran’s growing influence in the country, most notably via the network of majority Iranian-backed Shia militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, could weigh heavily on any decision by the Pentagon to put more boots on the ground in Iraq.

“One of the problems in the [coalition] campaign is that the partner [forces] hate each other more than they hate ISIS,” Mr. Brands said. “As ISIS gets closer to defeat, those underlying conflicts … are coming to the surface in a major way.”


Judy Byington