Mosul is the nation’s second-largest city. What’s happening here doesn’t bode well for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s administration. It calls into question whether he has a handle on the country. The devastating militant advance, which had been building for some time, is proving an object lesson of much that is wrong in Iraq and the region, growing sectarian tensions at home and a festering civil war over the border in Syria.
- The Islamic State captured Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, from the Iraqi government after a seven-day battle in June 2014. The US-backed Iraqi assault to recapture Mosul began with great fanfare on October 18, 2016.
- Already, the battle to take Mosul back has lasted longer than the battle IS fought to conquer it.
- IS is outmanned and outgunned in this fight, but it has dug in. It occupies a highly defensible position, and it is not going to retreat. This battle is not going to be a rout. It will be a bloody example of urban warfare.
“Although there have been reports of Shiite militias heading west to cut off potential IS retreating points, those are unconfirmed at present, and the militias certainly don’t include the bulk of Iraq’s best fighters.”