Forces op­er­at­ing in Mo­sul the­atre

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A wide ar­ray of Iraqi and in­ter­na­tional forces are in­volved in the op­er­a­tion to re­take Mo­sul from the Is­lamic State ji­hadist group, which over­ran the coun­try’s sec­ond city in 2014. These are the main forces bat­tling the es­ti­mated 4,000-7,000 IS fight­ers in and around Mo­sul:

The CTS is an elite Iraqi spe­cial forces unit that has spear­headed as­saults in most key bat­tles against IS. It is fight­ing to­ward Mo­sul from the east.

Rapid Re­sponse Di­vi­sion

The CTS’s in­te­rior min­istry coun­ter­part that has de­vel­oped into a key as­sault force in Iraq’s war against IS. It is ad­vanc­ing on Mo­sul from the south.

The army has be­gun play­ing a more suc­cess­ful role in op­er­a­tions against the ji­hadists since it was re­vi­tal­ized by US-led train­ing af­ter sev­eral of its di­vi­sions col­lapsed dur­ing the IS of­fen­sive two years ago. Sol­diers are fight­ing on the north­ern, east­ern and south­ern ap­proaches to Mo­sul.

In­cludes para­mil­i­tary fed­eral po­lice and pro­vin­cial po­lice forces. Many Iraqi po­lice forces have played roles more akin to those of sol­diers in the war against IS. They are op­er­at­ing on the south­ern front.

An um­brella or­ga­ni­za­tion cre­ated in 2014, which in­cludes a dizzy­ing col­lec­tion of para­mil­i­tary forces who vary widely in skill and in the de­gree to which they are ac­tu­ally un­der govern­ment con­trol. The main groups are Ira­nian-backed Shi­ite mili­tias, in­clud­ing Ke­taeb Hezbol­lah, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and Badr. The Hashed has played a ma­jor role in the anti-IS fight in Iraq but forces within it have also car­ried out abuses. It also in­cludes Sunni tribal forces some­times re­ferred to as “tribal mo­bi­liza­tion” or “na­tional mo­bil­i­sa­tion”. Hashed forces aim to re­take the town of Tal Afar to the west of Mo­sul and cut ji­hadist sup­ply lines to Syria, but are fight­ing south and south­west of the city for now.

Kur­dish forces

The pesh­merga are the armed forces of Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dish re­gion. They nom­i­nally an­swer to the fed­eral govern­ment but in prac­tice op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently, bat­tling IS along a long front in the coun­try’s north. Forces from Iran’s Kur­dis­tan Free­dom Party (PAK) are em­bed­ded in some pesh­merga op­er­a­tions. It is sep­a­rate from other Ira­nian Kur­dish rebels groups that have also been ac­tive on the Iraqi side of the bor­der such as the Kur­dis­tan Demo­cratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and the Party of Free Life of Kur­dis­tan (PJAK). The Turk­ish Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK) may also be in­volved in the Mo­sul op­er­a­tion. Kur­dish forces are op­er­at­ing north and east of Mo­sul.

A US-led in­ter­na­tional al­liance is car­ry­ing out air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria, and pro­vid­ing train­ing, arms and equip­ment to forces op­pos­ing the ji­hadists. There are more than 7,500 coali­tion mil­i­tary per­son­nel de­ployed in Iraq, over half of them from the United States. Most are in ad­vi­sory or train­ing roles, but spe­cial forces sol­diers who have fought the ji­hadists on the ground have been de­ployed and coali­tion forces near Mo­sul have also tar­geted IS with ar­tillery.

Ira­nian forces have pro­vided ad­vice and other as­sis­tance, in­clud­ing fund­ing for var­i­ous mili­tias fight­ing IS in Iraq. Qassem Soleimani, the com­man­der of Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards for­eign op­er­a­tions wing, has been re­peat­edly pic­tured in Iraq dur­ing the war.

De­ployed at a base near Mo­sul from which they have car­ried out ar­tillery strikes against IS. Turk­ish troops are also present in­side Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dish re­gion. The fed­eral govern­ment has de­manded their with­drawal, with the prime min­is­ter vow­ing that they will not take part in the op­er­a­tion to re­cap­ture Mo­sul, but Turkey has de­clined to do so.— AFP

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