Who is ISIS?
ISIS is radical jihadist group that is notorious for their hatred of the western world, particularly the United States. They seek to re-establish the caliphate (an Islamic state led by a religious leader who has absolute authority) and become the only legitimate state in the world.
What’s been happening? The Battle for Mosul: ISIS vs. Coalition Forces
In June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) easily captured the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. An estimated 30,000 soldiers fled when confronted by as few as 800 militants and the ISIS militants were able to overrun the western bank of the city overnight. ISIS used the momentum from its victory to seize large portions of the country in quick succession, reversing some of the achievements made by the United States in driving ISIS and Al-Qaeda out of Iraq over the last few years.
When the ISIS fighters took over the city of Mosul, they were able to seize large quantities of weaponry such as vehicles, arms and ammunition which strengthened their position in Iraq. Ironically, much of the equipment was probably supplied by the United States who is Iraq’s biggest weapons provider.
The fight to take back Mosul began last year on the 16th of October when a coalition of more than 30,000 troops commenced a multi-pronged offensive on multiple fronts in an attempt to corner ISIS. Slow but steady progress has been made as troops reached the edges of Mosul by the end of October and taking over most of the eastern side of the city within the following months. According to Iraqi estimates, it is believed that the number of Islamic State fighters has dwindled to around 1,000 from a previous figure of 6,000 in October 2016.
On the 23rd of February, there was finally a major breakthrough after months of intense fighting between the coalition forces and ISIS in Mosul. Iraqi government forces took control of most of Mosul airport, meeting their first key objective for retaking the western half of the city from Isis. The advance represents a major win for the Iraqi government as its recapture means that the coalition now controls all of the roads in and out of the city. ISIS had also reportedly used it as a training facility and a factory for car bombs. Not anymore!
A difficult task lies ahead as the battle continues for the western part of Mosul which has many narrow and winding streets. Due to this fact, armoured vehicles cannot easily navigate the area. Much of the fighting is expected to be done in close quarters in the midst of 750,000 civilians who are still residing there. It’s likely to take at least few more months for the rest of the city to be under the control of the Iraqi government.