The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The bat­tle to re­take the Iraqi city of Mo­sul, in its third day Wed­nes­day, is pro­ceed­ing me­thod­i­cally and is ex­pected to face tough re­sis­tance from the in­sur­gents once Iraqi forces reach the city it­self in the com­ing days, Pen­tagon of­fi­cials said.

“The ini­tial op­er­a­tion, the move­ment has gone pretty well,” Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, com­man­der of al­lied forces in Iraq, told re­porters. “The Iraqis are ahead of where I thought they would be when this op­er­a­tion started. They con­tinue to move and con­tinue to lib­er­ate vil­lages. I think the last count yes­ter­day was 13, and they con­tinue to move to­ward Mo­sul.”

Among the ma­jor dan­gers fac­ing Iraqi army troops are new types of im­pro­vised bombs and an ex­ten­sive net­work of un­der­ground fa­cil­i­ties that in­clude sleep­ing and eat­ing quar­ters and hid­den arms and am­mu­ni­tion caches.

The 3,000 to 5,000 Is­lamic State fight­ers in and around the city of 1 mil­lion are “lit­er­ally like rats,” said a mil­i­tary of­fi­cer fa­mil­iar with re­ports from Iraq who de­scribed the tun­nels as sim­i­lar to a sewer sys­tem. “The un­der­ground piece [of the op­er­a­tion] is go­ing to be a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge.”

Over the past sev­eral days, Is­lamic State fight­ers have set off at least six large ve­hi­cle bombs against ad­vanc­ing Iraqi forces and Kur­dish mili­tias lo­cated south, north­west and east of the city. In the past, the ter­ror­ists used the car bombs of­fen­sively. But in a shift, Is­lamic State fight­ers have started us­ing ve­hi­cle bombs de­fen­sively — to slow the ad­vance of Iraqi forces and buy time for re­treat.

Fight­ing in­side the city is ex­pected to be dif­fi­cult be­cause the ter­ror­ists have had two years to pre­pare de­fenses against the Iraqi ground as­sault backed by U.S.-led airstrikes.

U.S. of­fi­cials out­lined sev­eral types of de­fenses that Is­lamic State fight­ers are us­ing, in­clud­ing house-borne im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vices — res­i­dences wired with booby traps to use against Iraqi troops as they con­duct house-to-house op­er­a­tions. Sniper po­si­tions also have been built to slow the Iraqi op­er­a­tions.

The Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists also have what chem­i­cal weapons of­fi­cials describe as a rudi­men­tary form of mus­tard. The sul­fur mus­tard is in pow­der form and can be loaded into ar­tillery shells and det­o­nated. The


While De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter pre­pared for his trip to Turkey, a se­nior Iraqi gen­eral on Wed­nes­day called on Iraqis fight­ing for the Is­lamic State to sur­ren­der as a wide-scale op­er­a­tion to re­take Mo­sul en­tered its third day.

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