Small Wars Journal

As Mosul Offensive Nears Final Stages, What Comes Next May Be More Complex

As Mosul Offensive Nears Final Stages, What Comes Next May Be More Complex by Chad Garland, Stars & Stripes

As the six-month offensive to retake Mosul enters its final stages, the challenge ahead will be reconciliation and reconstruction, a top commander said as government forces bear down on Islamic State militants in Iraq’s second-largest city.

“The picture in the near future after liberating Mosul [is] not very nice,” Maj. Gen. Najm al-Jabouri said last week. “We need a lot of effort to repair what ISIS destroyed.”

His own example — as a man hardened by a desire for revenge and as a civic leader with experience mending the wounds of an insurgency — highlights both the complexity of that next phase and a potential way ahead.

Al-Jabouri, who returned to Iraq in 2015 from the United States to help lead the counter-ISIS fight at the behest of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, is eager to avenge the blood of his people, who’ve been terrorized since the jihadis swept through Mosul and other parts of northern Iraq in 2014.

He knows very well the horrors ISIS can commit after the terrorist group brutally executed his relatives nearly two years ago. In a propaganda video released in June 2015, five men were shown drowning inside a cage the militants submerged in a pool, and seven others were beheaded by explosives fuse cords fashioned into necklaces. Al-Jabouri said these men were all his cousins.

“They killed for any reason,” he said, whether because they coveted a man’s wife or property, to send a message to the victims’ relatives or for no reason at all. “These people are like Dracula; (they) just want to drink blood.”

Such inhumanity is increasingly apparent on the battlefield, where the militants have reportedly hanged from utility poles the dead bodies of civilians attempting to flee. They’re using human shields, embedding armed fighters among fleeing residents, and firing on escaping women and children to draw Iraqi forces into the open in rescue attempts, al-Jabouri said, all part of a last-ditch effort to hold the city…

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