Thursday, November 3, 2016


(ISW)  The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) began advancing into Mosul’s eastern and south-eastern neighbourhoods on November 1-3, marking the first time the ISF has had any presence in the city since ISIS captured it in mid-2014. The Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) stormed Gogjali, Mosul’s easternmost suburb, on November 1 and continued clearing operations on November 2. The CTS then breached Mosul’s eastern city limits, entering al-Karama on November 2 and retaking the neighbourhood of Samah on November 3. Units from the 9th Iraqi Army (IA) Division and the 1st Rapid Intervention Division recaptured several villages south-east of Mosul before entering the south-eastern neighbourhoods of Judaya al-Mufti on November 1 and al-Intasar on November 3. The entry into the neighbourhoods marks the start of a long operation to clear ISIS’s capital in Iraq block-by-block.

Security forces have made progress recapturing terrain on Mosul’s western and southern axes. Iraqi Shi’a militias made quick gains moving northwest towards the city of Tel Afar, west of Mosul, recapturing many majority-Sunni villages along the southwestern axis from November 1-3. Iranian-backed proxy militias pushing towards Tel Afar, including the Badr Organization, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), are likely to engage in sectarian violence, though they have encountered few civilians during clearing operations thus far. Meanwhile, the ISF advanced north toward Hammam al-Alil, the last major city between the security forces and Mosul on the southern axis, reaching the city’s outskirts on November 2. From Hammam al-Alil, the ISF can advance to Mosul’s southern limits, where it will likely aim to recapture an airport and military base to use as staging grounds for further operations into the city.
Turkey deployed additional troops on November 2 to the Turkish town of Silopi on the Turkey-Iraq border. Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s announced the deployment on October 29, cautioning against Shi’a militia abuses against Turkmen populations in Tel Afar, west of Mosul. Other senior Turkish leaders also warned against the establishment of a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) stronghold in Sinjar and called the build-up a “precaution,” not a threat. Turkey is unlikely to engage in a major operation in Iraq, particularly as it is heavily invested in Syria. However, it is possible that Turkey deploys small units into northern Iraq in order to counter any movement by the PKK or Shi’a militias which it deems hostile. Turkey may also use its build-up as leverage in discussions regarding Mosul’s post-ISIS administration. The Iraqi Government will respond to a deployment of any size as major violation of sovereignty, escalating tensions between Iraq and Turkey and undermining the anti-ISIS Coalition.