According to the Pentagon, the caliphate army is in trouble in Iraq. It is losing ground and its offensive powers have been reduced to almost nothing. The international coalition’s strategy carried out up to now has paid off. The militants are on the defensive, their power waning. For the first time, the American generals appear positive.
The Offensive on Mosul
The conflict will still be prolonged, but after an uncertain beginning, the initial results seem to have come in — and more will arrive soon. At a U.S. Department of Defense press conference, certain details of the Iraqi army’s offensive were revealed. The offensive will be carried out between April and May — before June 17 at least, the official start of Ramadan — against Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which was captured by the Islamic State several months ago.
Around 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and three Kurdish peshmerga brigades will take part in the offensive, along with — the Pentagon spokesperson admitted to journalists — American troops. They will guide American air raids from the ground and will accompany the Iraqis in their advance on the city.
Before them will be the Islamic State group militants. According to Pentagon calculations, their numbers vary between 1,000 and 2,000. They will put up a strong fight, but it is clear that in the face of the much more superior force, they will have great difficulty in retaining Mosul.
It remains to be seen if everything will go as smoothly as Pentagon officials claim. The Iraqi army is poorly trained and has few weapons. In the end, it is therefore probable that elite troops will be used in the offensive, a maximum of 3,000 soldiers. Because of this, the role of the peshmerga Kurds and the U.S. Army Special Forces will be key.
All Is Not Well on the Iraqi Front
Despite the positive tone of the American generals, not all is going in the right direction against the Islamic State group in Iraq. A week ago, the militants succeeded in surrounding part of the city of al-Baghdadi, in Anbar province. It is one of the most sensitive parts of the front, given that it is largely populated by Sunnis.
The city is two miles away from the Ain al-Asad air base, where 320 American soldiers were sent, and whose — official — detail was to train Iraqi troops. At the time, it was thought that this could be, if it hadn’t already been, the first point of face to face contact with the Islamic State group militants.
A few days ago, for the first time in the conflict, Apache helicopters were used to contain the Islamic State group, sent by U.S. Central Command in support of the Iraqis. Their missiles hit Islamic State group targets.
A Ground War
The American war in Iraq is moving increasingly from an air campaign to a war on the ground. What Barack Obama had wanted to avoid, and what his generals, on the contrary, had maintained was a vital step to secure victory, is becoming a reality.
The next offensive on Mosul will demonstrate to what point American soldiers have become involved on the ground. However, it will also show whether the Islamic State group will have lost the war — at least in Iraq.