“Once that relationship is severed, because[ the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)] go back to the regime, which we don’t have a relationship with, (or) the Russians … when that happens then we will no longer be partners with them,” On February 15 2019 , General Joseph Votel backed supporting the SDF as needed as long as it kept the pressure on Islamic State militants. But Lieutenant General Paul LaCamera’s comments make clear that the SDF will have to choose between backing from Assad, Russia or the United States.
[February 7 2019 Sectarian nature of the Syrian war ]
The new generation of Saudi jihadis are neither loners nor social outcasts, but appear motivated by the heightened sectarian nature of the Syrian war, particularly after the Iranian-backed Shiite Hezbollah group’s backing of the Syrian government. Most millennial Saudi jihadis were relatively well-educated, not driven purely by religious ideology and showed little interest in suicide bombings. King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.
[May 9 2018 IS too beneficial to Assad, allowing him to appear as lesser of two evils ]
“We remain concerned for any that are moving onto the western Euphrates River, where ISIS retains some freedom of action, as their regimes seem either unwilling or unable to effectively deal and finally defeat ISIS on the west of the river. we remain concerned about ISIS freedom west of the River Euphrates, where it seems they have some freedom of action still, because they have not been properly defeated by the pro-regime forces.”
.[12/28/17] “there were no plans for U.S. or coalition forces to stop remaining ISIS fighters moving into the west of Syria as they migrate along the Euphrates River Valley in Syria. “We are seeing the movement of limited numbers of ISIS militants westward,” Gedney said. “They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory showing that the regime is either unwilling or unable to to defeat [ISIS] within their borders,” he added.
U.K. Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, Deputy Commander, Strategy and Support, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve
[September 2 2017]
In Syria, IS is still holding on to the fertile and densely populated Euphrates valley between the city of Deir al-Zor and the Iraqi border, an area to which many IS leaders are thought to have withdrawn.
The narrow valley would actually be easier to conquer than the cities, but it is located far from where Kurdish militias are operating as they attack Raqqa with U.S. support. Furthermore, the topography of the valley is advantageous for IS: Both sides are flanked by steppe land and desert, making it easy for the terrorist group to quickly pull back.
Perhaps most importantly, though, fighting Islamic State is well down on the agenda of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, despite all their claims to the contrary. The jihadists have simply been too beneficial to Assad, allowing him to appear as the lesser of two evils in the eyes of the world.
In Iraq, too, the terrorist army continues to maintain its hold on a vast territory beyond the now embattled stronghold of Tal Afar: the district of Hawija, a region of more than 40 square kilometers of fertile land located southwest of Kirkuk, home to several towns, around 100 villages and tens of thousands of residents.
Hawija was one of Islamic State’s first strongholds in Iraq — and will likely be the last one to fall.
[July 20 2017IS insurgents have infiltrated south of Q-West Airfield from Hawija
* Centcom July 20: “Near Qayyarah, four strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units, destroyed a boat, damaged an ISIS-held building and suppressed an ISIS tactical unit.”
Nineveh – 9:20 PM Wednesday 19 07 2017
1- [Iraqi] Military source: Our powerful troops cleansed the village of Imam, west of the south of Al-Qayyarah and took it back from the control of IS forces.
On July 16,near Qayyarah, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed two ISIS-held buildings.
[July 12 ]
[Centcom July 12] Near Qayyarah, two strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed two mortar systems and two vehicles.[Turkish} Five Iraqi soldiers were killed July 11 in clashes with the Daesh terrorist group in Qayyarah district, south of Mosul, according to a military officer.
Army Captain Mohannad al-Shewili said the clashes continued overnight in the Daesh-held Imam Gharbi village. The Islamic State executed on July 11 three fighters belonging to al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) in the Imam Gharbi village in al-Qayara neighborhood, southern Mosul, a local source told Shafaaq News. Militants, armed with machine guns and mortars, have now seized more than 75 percent of Imam Gharbi, a village on the western bank of the Tigris river some 70 km (44 miles) south of Mosul, and reinforcements are expected, the Iraqi army officer said.[Reuters].
Reports continue to come in of an ISIS diversionary offensive in a small town south , near Mosul, where the U.S. has a set up Qayyarah Airfield West. The assault on Imam Gharbi village appeared to be the sort of diversionary, guerrilla-style strike Security sources said IS insurgents had infiltrated , some 70 km (44 miles) south of Mosul on the western bank of the Tigris river, on July 5 evening from a pocket of territory still under their control on the eastern bank.
Two Iraqi journalists were reported killed and two others wounded as they covered the security forces’ counter-attack to take back the village on July 7. Islamic State still controls 60% of the Imam Gharbi village in al-Qayara neighborhood located in southern Mosul, which was liberated several months ago.
“Joint military units have managed to liberate 40% only of the Imam Gharbi village after six days from the IS seizure of the village,” the source said.An unknown number of civilians and military were also killed or wounded.
The fighting forced the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration to suspend relief operations at two sites where it houses nearly 80,000 people near Qayyara, just north of Imam Gharbi, a U.N. statement said.
With water trucks no longer able to reach the sites, the displaced people could run short of water at a time of midsummer temperatures well over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), it said.
The insurgents were still in control of half the village by July 7 evening, security sources said. The offensive was launched from Hawija. Hawija, a backwater to be sure but one encircled by canals which offer some formidable natural defences.
There is also the countryside around Hawija and the open desert along the Syrian border, dotted with villages on the banks of the Euphrates river leading to al Qa’im, a city as big as Hawija and Tal Afar combined, all under ISIS control
[June 21 Next Year, in Mosul ]
Additional forces from the 82nd Airborne Division will head to the Qayyarah Airfield West, or “Q-West” as the soldiers call it, the official said. U.S. forces have occupied the former Iraqi military base since the summer. Currently, Apache gunships and GPS-guided rocket systems called HIMARS are based there roughly 40 miles south of Mosul to support the ongoing battle for Iraq’s second largest city.
In Hamam al-Alil, 15 miles south of Mosul, a U.S. Army artillery battery has also been supporting the Iraqi-led operation into West Mosul in recent months.
[August 24 2016 Next Year, in Mosul ]
August 22, 2016 @ 12:14 pm WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the fight against the Islamic State group said August 21 that he is skeptical of any additional military cooperation with Russia in Syria. And he said he believes he can get the mission done without it, outlining new plans to accelerate the pace and scope of the U.S.-led coalition operations to retake the key Islamic State-held cities of Raqqa and Mosul within the next year.
Iraqi officials have suggested they plan to begin the effort to retake Mosul later this fall, and the fight for Raqqa could also start within that timeline. Now they’re just a couple of kilometers away from the town center and about 60 kilometers from Mosul. By the end of the year, they say, they will liberate Iraq’s second-largest metropolitan area seized by ISIS two years ago. Townsend’s vow to have both retaken in the next year only underscores how difficult U.S. commanders believe it will be to drive Islamic State insurgents from those larger, heavily populated strongholds. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,
[April 12 Nothing more from U.S. for Mosul, no,no,no
United States will not send additional troops and equipment to help the Iraqi Security Forces retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State without Iraq first addressing sectarian divisions that could threaten to divide the country into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite territories. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, speaking to press April 11 during a visit to the Goa state in India. Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of the international operation against Islamic State, has said that Iraqi generals do not think they will be able to recapture Mosul until the end of 2016 or early 2017 at the earliest.
[March 16 Equipment moving from Camp Taji in Baghdad towards Mosul ]
[March 6 Northern Iraq is littered with U.S. special operation units ]
An advanced U.S. Army reconnaissance aircraft crash-landed in a field outside of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan on morning of March 4.
. Pictures posted to social media show the downed aircraft surrounded by what appears to be well-armed special operations forces. It is outfitted with the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, or EMARSS.
The Army flies a small fleet of fixed-wing aircraft that is broken down into three categories: Special Electronic Mission Aircraft, or SEMA, transport aircraft and mission support aircraft. EMARSS-equipped aircraft fall under SEMA.
The EMARSS system consists of a King Air 350ER aircraft equipped with an electro-optic/infra-red (EO/IR) sensor, communications intelligence collection system, an aerial precision geolocation system, line-of-site tactical and beyond line-of-site communications suites, two Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) workstations and a self-protection suite.
It is unclear what the EMARSS-equipped aircraft was doing before the crash. However, northern Iraq is littered with U.S. special operation units, including the Expeditionary Targeting Force, an elite commando unit dispatched to the region to capture and kill Islamic State fighters. While unable to stay in the air as long as drones, manned surveillance aircraft like the MC-12 are integral for missions, such as special operations raids, that require rapid intelligence gathering.
March 1 IS in Iraq “drawing to a close”? ]
The Islamic State group’s existence in Iraq looks to be drawing to a close as Pentagon officials confirmed February 29 that U.S.-led coalition forces had commenced operations aimed at driving the terror organization out of its last remaining stronghold in Mosul.
CHRISTOPHER HARRESS @CHARRESS ON 03/01/16
Around 200 U.S. Delta Force troops, in coordination with the Iraqi military, are said to be conducting raids, seizing territory and plotting to rescue hostages and prisoners.
The CIA and other intelligence agencies still use contractors like the former Blackwater or $2.2 billion firm DynCorp and other for paramilitary services. That number of military contractors represents just a fraction of the contractors employed by the U.S. in Iraq. In addition to the 2,028 Pentagon contractors, another 5,800 are employed by other agencies, including the State Department. Many of the contractors in Iraq and neighboring countries are from well known warzone companies like KBR and Fluor Corporation,
Even though Mosul is the final stronghold, the Islamic terror group continues to have small pockets of its fighters dotted across the country, but will no longer have a main base of operations if U.S Special Forces are successful in their current operations. IS currently occupies the city of Fallujah in Anbar province, only 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Baghdad. However, the group is under siege by local Sunni tribesmen who enlisted to help push the group out of the city. United States Defense Department statistics released earlier this month indicate that the number of IS militants in Iraq and Syria had fallen to between 19,000 and 25,000, down from earlier estimates of up to more than 30,000 fighters. It is suspected that IS, commanders especially, are seeking safety in Libya.
[June 10 2015 Extreme summer heat makes retaking Mosul before the fall unlikely ]
— FRONTLINE (@frontlinepbs) June 9, 2015
Hot in Mosul
Near Bayji, nine airstrikes struck two large and six smaller tactical units, destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun. A U.S. military official said recently the extreme summer heat after Ramadan made any effort to retake Mosul before the fall unlikely.
[April 4 Assault on Tikrit without U.S. planning participation, officials admit]
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi ordered the arrest of looters and for the Shi’ite paramilitaries to withdraw to positions outside of Tikrit Saturday after meeting with officials from Salahuddin province. Government officials have reportedly blamed the looting and violence on local Sunni tribal fighters.
The U.S. military has publicly earmarked Mosul as the next target of the offensive against Islamic State in Iraq. Pentagon officials in February predicted the assault would begin by April or May – a disclosure that should not have been made, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter later said.
Sunni lawmakers who visited Tikrit complained that events have spun out of control since the security forces and militias retook the city. Parliamentarian Mutashar al-Samarrai credited the government with orchestrating a smooth entrance into Tikrit. But he said that some Shi’ite paramilitary factions had exploited the situation. “I believe this happened on purpose to disrupt the government’s achievement in Tikrit,” Samarrai said. “This is a struggle between the (paramilitaries) and the government for control.” The assault on Tikrit was launched without any planning participation by Washington, U.S. officials have admitted.
[March 30 Tikrit: U.S. denies airstrikes March 22-24]
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says a U.S. drone strike killed two of its advisers near the Iraqi city of Tikrit, where a major offensive is underway against the Islamic State group, but the U.S. said March 30 its coalition conducted no airstrikes in the area during the time of the incident.
[March 27 Washington demanded the withdrawal of Shi’ite militias]
Iraqi special forces advanced on central Tikrit on March 26 as U.S.-led coalition planes joined the largest offensive yet against Islamic State militants holding out in Saddam Hussein’s home city. Coalition jets launched their first air strikes against Islamic State targets in Tikrit on March 25, coming off the sidelines to aid Iraqi forces against the Sunni Islamist militants.
Underlying the complex web of loyalties behind the conflict, a senior U.S. general said Washington had demanded the withdrawal of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias fighting alongside Iraq’s government before agreeing to take part.
List of former U.S bases near Tikrit 2093 -2006
Camp Buffalo (Tikrit)
Camp Cougar (Tikrit)
Camp Ironhorse / FOB Danger (Tikrit)
Camp Raider / FOB Dagger (Tikrit)
FOB Omaha Tikrit
FOB Packhorse Tikrit
OB Remagen Tikrit Tikrit South Air Base
COB Speicher, located near Tikrit, Iraq