Less than a day after its launch, the big Mosul offensive prepared for more than a year by the US, the Iraqi army, Kurdish forces and others, ground to a halt Tuesday Oct. 17, debkafile’s military sources report – although none of the parties admitted as much. Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi said his troops were busy opening up corridors for some million civilians to escape, while US sources suggested that the Islamic State would use primitive chemical weapons against the advancing Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Both had the ring of cover stories to account for the spearhead forces, the Iraq army’s 9th Armored Division and the Federal Police special anti-terror units, being thrown back Tuesday on their way to Mosul from the east and the south, while still 10-15km short of the city. They sustained heavy losses in lives and hardware.
The 9th Division and its newly-supplied heavy US Abrahams tanks were stopped at al-Hamdaniyah outside Mosul and retreated, recalling a previous defeat at ISIS hands in June 2014, when troops of the same division fled under Islamist attack, leaving their tanks behind. Continue reading
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Tehran is believed to be preparing to dispatch a substantial Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) special operations unit to Syria to tackle the separate rebel and ISIS advances closing in on the Assad regime, Western and Arab intelligence sources report. They say the Syrian army is already setting aside an area in northern Syria for the Iranian troops to take up position.
If this happens, debkafile’s military sources note that it would be the Revolutionary Guards first direct intervention in the nearly five-year Syrian war. Up until now, Tehran has carefully avoided putting Iranian boots on the ground in both Syria and Iraq. The only place where Iranian forces are directly engaged in battle is at Iraq’s main refinery town of Baiji, where small infantry and artillery units have been trying – without success thus far – to dislodge ISIS forces from the refinery complex. Continue reading
Hassan Nasrallah Saturday, May 23, called his Lebanese Shiite Hizballah movement to the flag, because “we are faced with an existential crisis” from the rising belligerence of the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant. His deputy, Sheik Naim Qssem, sounded even more desperate: “The Middle East is at the risk of partition” in a war with no end in sight, he said. “Solutions for Syria are suspended. We must now see what happens in Iraq.”
The price Iran’s Lebanese proxy has paid for fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s army for four years is cruel: some 1,000 dead and many times that number of wounded. Its leaders now understood that their sacrifice was in vain. ISIS has brought the Syrian civil war to a new dead end. Continue reading