The big Mosul offensive is stuck, halted by ISIS

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

Islamic State booby traps massive Iraqi dam which could kill thousands if breached

The bid to seize back Mosul dam from extremists falters as US backed forces are hampered by explosive devices

The American backed offensive to recapture Iraq’s biggest dam slowed on Monday, as fighters from the Islamic State rigged part of the area with booby traps and remotely triggered bombs.

Whilst a series of air strikes by American F-18 fighter jets reportedly sent most of the jihadists fleeing from the central parts of Mosul dam, a network of landmines and planted explosives they left behind impeded Kurdish ground forces from recapturing the strategically vital terrain.

“The jihadists have escaped from their positions beside the water pumps – the most important levers for the dam,” said General Kawa Kawani, spokesman for the Kurdish special forces. “But we cannot enter the area because of the explosives.” Continue reading

ISIS claims gains, takes control of Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam

(CNN) — Fighters with the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria reached the triangle border between Iraq, Syria and Turkey, it said in a message posted on Twitter on Sunday.

ISIS took control of Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam on Iraq’s Tigris River, which provides power to the city of Mosul about 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the south, the commander of the Peshmerga Kurdish fighters who had been defending the facility said Sunday.

The dam workers remained inside the facility, which fell after a 24-hour battle, Lt. Col. Herash said. Continue reading

The US embassy is preparing to evacuate Baghdad as Tal Afar falls and Iraq masses forces at Samarrah

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says a number of embassy staff members have been withdrawn from Baghdad due to the deteriorating security situation.

Islamic militants have taken over a swathe of territory in northern Iraq in an offensive that has brought fighting to within 80km of the capital.

“The Australian embassy remains open with reduced staffing levels,’’ DFAT says in its latest travel advice. Continue reading