Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Battle for East Mosul Continues

Iraqi forces continue to push back ISIL in semi-isolated (because the bridges across the Tigris River are disabled) east Mosul:

The map is from this article which has this odd statement:

[Counter-Terrorism Service forces] attacked across the River Tigris, and marked the beginning of the second phase of the nearly 12-week campaign, launched on 17 October, tasked with recapturing Mosul. The Iraqi army said its troops had raised the national flag after capturing the [al-Muthana] district.

"Attacked across the River Tigris"? Huh? That would be kind of a big deal if that means Iraqi troops crossed the Tigris River either way. Is this supposed to mean they reached the eastern bank of the Tigris River as this article reports?

This article highlights the CTS role in the renewed offensive into eastern Mosul. As the article notes, the CTS was the main force in the earlier stage.

But note that after ISIL is weakened in the east, there are army units and police paramilitary units involved in the renewed offensive. Why?

I suspect that the CTS are still highlighted because a good part of the CTS were moved to the south and west of the west side of Mosul where oddly unlabeled arrows show Iraqi forces operating from the south. What have these troops been doing? Washing their socks and cheering on the eastern front offensive?

Of course, I've been expecting a major offensive in the southwest while everyone--especially ISIL--is focused on eastern Mosul as the only front, for quite some time now. But here we are.

I'm right or wrong, I guess. I'd have grabbed them by the collar in the east and kicked them in the ass from the southwest (with bonus air assault into a stadium on the west bank to create an airhead to really throw the ISIL defenders into chaos.

Then, Iraqi forces on the east could cross the Tigris River on boats, with helicopters, and over repaired or new temporary bridges to add to the enemy chaos.

But no, we're supposed to believe that the entire Iraqi offensive is from the east and that when enough Iraqi forces reach the river, they'll vault it and attack into western Mosul from that same direction; while all the Iraqi forces in the south continue to cheer on the eastern front forces while in fresh socks.

I am not the Lord of the Offensive, as I've noted.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting tidbit about the river:

"There is no bridge, the bridge is destroyed. There is a dirt thing below the bridge. We transported our belongings and our women and our families," said [Mosul resident] Mohamed.

Could ISIL have created an earthen ford under that bridge in order to be able to walk across the river? Is that what the "dirt thing" is that the man mentioned?

UPDATE: Iraqi forces are predicted to capture Mosul east of the river in "days."

I would have attacked western Mosul from the south and west while ISIL was fully engaged in trying to hold eastern Mosul. Then the ISIL defenders might have panicked when they heard of an offensive to their rear and tried to run across the river and been killed more easily on the move.

Now it seems that few ISIL forces must be left in eastern Mosul.

On the bright side, with Iraqi forces holding a front with a river between them and ISIL, the Iraqis will have a solid defense line to hold (car bombs aren't getting across that anti-tank ditch) while an Iraqi offensive kicks off from the south and west into western Mosul.

UPDATE: CTS forces have reached the Fourth Bridge, which is the southern-most of the five bridges that span the Tigris River which splits Mosul.

Note too that the picture shows the bridge looking pretty intact in the background. I know the bridges were disabled but not knocked down totally (so they can be repaired), but I wonder what was done to that bridge? Were approach roads destroyed? Is there a span missing that I can't see?

UPDATE: ISIL forces have damaged two bridges more than the coalition has from the air:

An army statement and the U.S. coalition said Islamic State had blown up sections of two bridges linking east and west Mosul in a bid to hamper crossings by Iraqi forces.

We called the damage "severe." But I still don't think that the main effort against ISIL forces in western Mosul will be an opposed river crossing from the east when so many Iraqi troops have been poised south of western Mosul since the launch of this offensive.