The battle for the second largest city of Iraq promises to be the biggest battle of the decade.
The Sunni militia of Mosul inflicted a serious loss elite "Gold division" of Iraq's government troops advancing on the Eastern suburbs. Units of commandos and paratroopers stormed the city, has faced unexpectedly fierce resistance not only of militants, but local residents and in some areas were forced to go on the defensive. Experts warn that the victory over ISIS (banned in Russia) to Mosul is impossible without the normalization of relations between Shiites and Sunnis.
Yesterday, Iraqi troops storming Mosul, has faced unexpectedly stiff resistance in the South-Eastern outskirts of the city. Local militias, working together with ISIS militants, burned about a dozen armored jeeps, that the narrow streets become easy targets for grenade. Reports of the defeat were published in the online communities of American troops from the 101st air assault and 82nd airborne divisions, acting military advisers to the Iraqi army.
Two weeks earlier, militants, armed with the latest anti-tank weapons — RPG-89 and anti-tank systems "cornet" (they were captured from the Iraqi army in 2014), — had been badly mauled division, "Golden division" and the national anti-terrorist corps. According to local media, they managed to destroy at least a dozen tanks and more than 30 infantry fighting vehicles. Particularly formidable weapon was suicide bombers to bomb cars, to sow terror even among trained American instructors of special forces.
Now the Iraqi part of the partially went on the defensive and changed their tactics: they block the first quarter, creating a bulldozing barricades, then dismount and clean up house after house. The assurances of the Iraqi military, it allows to reduce losses among the personnel and the civilian population. However, while the plans of command very careful — to free the Eastern part of Mosul. This is much more fierce resistance is expected in another part of town, which is located on the West Bank of the Tigris river.
Current loss is commonly attributed to the actions of the professional fighters of ISIS. However, the footage from the fighting clearly shows that the ISIS take on the role of commanders and military specialists (snipers, operators anti-tank systems, drivers, machine-bombs), but the bulk of "ordinary" fighters are local residents equipped with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
Even before the outbreak of the October 17 operation to liberate Mosul experts have expressed concerns that part of the city's population could stand on the side of ISIS, and now these predictions are coming true. The reasons for this are rooted in religious differences.
Sunnis, who make up the population of Mosul, afraid of retaliation by Shiites. It is the hatred of the local population to the Shiite regime of Nouri al-Maliki allowed ISIS in 2014 swift shot to capture Mosul, and now the locals live in dread of the arrival of the Iraqi security forces and their allies. After the arrival of ISIS, the Shia have fled Mosul or were killed. In addition, among the Sunnis there were plenty of collaborators — those who collaborated with ISIS. These people have nothing to lose. Some sent their wives and children through the front line in refugee camps, while they themselves remain to fight.
The special horror of the Sunnis call the groups of "national mobilization" — the Shiite militias sponsored by Iran.
I'm afraid the Sunnis and Kurds. Human rights activists from Human Rights Watch have reported cases when the Kurds attack on Mosul from the North, especially the demolition of entire villages with the help of construction equipment to there are unable to back the Arabs.
During the reign of Saddam Hussein, the oil-rich Mosul and surrounding areas have been artificially arabized due to the expulsion of Kurds and the resettlement of thousands of people from center and South of the country. After 2003, the new authorities also sought to show the Kurds who's the boss in Mosul. There were quartered the troops and delivered a lot of weapons, which later fell to the ISIS militants.
According to Daniel levy, President of the American-British research Institute U. S./Middle East Project, expert of the club "Valdai", the fierce resistance in Mosul hardly be called a surprise.
— After the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the contradictions between Sunnis and Shiites worsened, he said. — Power in the country was divided along religious lines, and the Sunnis were discriminated against. This ultimately resulted in their support of "al-Qaeda" (banned in Russia) and ISIS. Even the Sunni establishment often uses rhetoric that might push ordinary people to cooperate with ISIS.
As stressed by levy, one military victory in Mosul will not be enough, efforts are needed for national reconciliation.
— Need political measures to reduce the appeal of ISIL to Sunnis, explains the analyst. — The Sunnis of Mosul and other areas were not allowed in government agencies, the army and the police. This error should be corrected. Also, additional efforts are needed to combat extremist ideology, both on the part of external donors, especially the Gulf countries, and locally by politicians, theologians and intellectuals.
Nikolay Surkov, Alexei Ramm