Small Wars Journal

The Battle for Mosul: How Iraqi Forces Defeated the Islamic State

The Battle for Mosul: How Iraqi Forces Defeated the Islamic State by Dan Lamothe, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Laris Karklis and Tim Meko - Washington Post

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the city of Mosul liberated from Islamic State control on Sunday, a watershed moment in the U.S.-backed Iraqi military campaign against the extremist group. The battle, which stretched nine months, was marked by fierce urban combat, the discovery of Islamic State atrocities and the use of small drones, “Mad Max”-style suicide vehicles and other tactics that prompted U.S. and Iraqi forces to adapt their operations as they fought.

The primarily Sunni city, with an original population of more than 2.5 million, was the biggest prize claimed by the Islamic State in its violent, chaotic sweep across northern and western Iraq in 2014. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate from Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri, which the Islamic State blew up June 22 as Iraqi forces closed in.

The fight to retake the city in effect turned into two major battles: one for the eastern half of the city and one for the more tightly congested western one, with the two sides separated by the Tigris River.

he Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces launched their offensive on the eastern half of the city on Oct. 17, 2016, pushing in from Mosul’s north, east and south under heavy resistance. The peshmerga moved out from their long-held defensive positions near Mosul's periphery and helped establish a cordon near the city's suburbs. From there, Iraqi forces began pushing into the city's eastern reaches.

By Nov. 1, Iraq’s elite counterterrorism service had captured a strategically important television station in eastern Mosul and the coalition had a strong foothold in the city. It was the first time the elite Iraqi forces, known as the CTS, had distinguished themselves in the campaign, though it would not be the last…

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