January 4, 2015

ALLIED OPERATIONS:

'ISIL is losing': Iraqis optimistic for 2015 : Circumstances of battle have changed in favour of Iraqi troops since June, local security officials say. (Suadad al-Salhy, 03 Jan 2015, Al-Jazeera)

Iraqi security officials and analysts said the local and regional circumstances of the battle between Iraqi troops and ISIL fighters have changed in favour of Iraqi troops since June. Among the key players battling ISIL are Iran, the US-led international military coalition, anti-ISIL tribesmen and a regional intelligence coalition.

Iran, which has strong ties with the Shia-led government in Baghdad, was the first country in the region to respond to the Iraqi government's calls for help - primarily ammunition and weapons, as the Iraqis lost thousands of weapons and equipment after withdrawing in Mosul, Salahaddin and Anbar.  

Iran is unifying the armed Shia factions and bringing all of them together to fight side by side, and this has intensified the power of the Iraqi troops in the front lines and greatly helped them to gain multiple victories over the last few months.

"Iran already has been playing a vital role in battling ISIL in Iraq as it has been delivering the required weapons, ammunition and intelligence information for both Baghdad and Erbil," Abdulwahid Tuama, an independent political analyst, told Al Jazeera. "Iran is unifying the armed Shia factions and bringing all of them together to fight side by side, and this has intensified the power of the Iraqi troops in the front lines and greatly helped them to gain multiple victories over the last few months."

Iraqi troops backed by Shia militias and Kurdish forces, following the direction of Iranian military advisers, recaptured the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawlaa over the last few months. These had been under the control of the extremist group since early August.

Some weeks earlier, ISIL fighters were driven out of Jurf al-Sakhar, a strategic town that was a key supplier for ISIL groups in southern Baghdad.

Both battles were commanded by the Iranian General Qasim Sulaimani, the head of al-Quds unit, and Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Shia Badr Organisation. They mainly relied on the Shia militias, according to several Kurdish officers and Shia militia leaders.

In early August, ISIL fighters turned back to attack the western areas of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, populated by Christian and Yezidi minorities. A week later, the United States authorised air strikes targeting ISIL fighters in Iraq. This was later expanded to become an international military coalition led by the US to deliver required assistance for Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces, including air strikes, consulting, training, equipping and arming.  

"At the beginning, ISIL was attacking and the rest of the Iraqi troops and its local backers were defending, but now, we are attacking, regaining control over towns and villages. The initiative of the battle is in our hands and they [ISIL fighters] are defending and losing," Yazin al-Joubori, a senior anti-ISIL leader who heads the tribal fighters battling alongside Iraqi troops in Salahaddin, told Al Jazeera. "The air cover that has been provided by the US-led International military coalition changed the formula. ISIL is losing and its fighters cannot grip the ground anymore."

Posted by at January 4, 2015 5:45 PM
  

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