Sunday, January 22, 2017

Waiting for Battle

Iraq is poised to assault western Mosul. ISIL severely damaged the Mosul Hotel near the northernmost bridge across the Tigris River in Mosul:

Islamic State detonated explosives in the largest hotel in western Mosul on Friday, in an attempt to destroy it and prevent Iraqi forces from using it as a landing spot or base in their offensive to capture the city, witnesses said on Sunday.

It looks like it could have flat areas on top where helicopters could have landed, I suppose.

But there are fields to the north where helicopters could land. So didn't ISIL just destroy what could have been a strongpoint to resist an Iraqi attack? The building is still standing but leaning, so it is unusable I imagine.

On the other hand, this shows that ISIL is looking east assuming that the Iraqis will cross the river to assault western Mosul.

I've long expected the dormant southern front to launch an attack into western Mosul from the south and west--possibly supported by an airmobile assault into a stadium south of that hotel near the road to the bridge north of the middle bridge--rather than continue the eastern offensive with a river crossing operation. Why add an unnecessary degree of difficulty with this type of operation?

Perhaps ISIL is distracted away from the main blow.

Or maybe I'm distracted by what I'd do if I was Lord of the Offensive.

While a river crossing isn't out of the question if it supports a main attack from the south and west, I will certainly be surprised if the primary thrust is an attack across a defended river line.

UPDATE: ISIL forces are defending the river line:

Islamic State fighters have taken up sniper positions in buildings on the west bank of the Tigris river ahead of an expected government offensive into that side the city, locals said on Wednesday.

If I was Lord of the Offensive, I'd thin out my troops holding the river line and move whatever I needed to spearhead the offensive--if there truly aren't such forces already--south and west of western Mosul.

And I'd consider strongly an air assault into western Mosul to support a ground drive.

By all means, have some Iraqi reserves on the east bank with bridging engineers ready to exploit confusion on the ISIL side.

But why launch an opposed river crossing operation if you don't have to?