Full ISIS Mobilization in Iraq & Syria to Fight for Mosul

The comments made by President Barack Obama at the Pentagon on Monday, Dec. 14, purported to outline a strategy for defeating the Islamic State. He also offered a couple of statistics on past performance.
“We are hitting ISIL harder than ever,” he said. The US has dropped almost 9,000 bombs since it launched attacks last year, and last month struck its largest amount of ISIS targets, killing their leaders.
Obama also claimed that the terrorist organization had so far “lost 40 percent of the populated areas it once controlled in Iraq – and would lose more.”
The data gathered by DEBKA Weekly’s military and counterterrorism sources show a different picture.
The jihadist group has indeed lost ground in Iraq – but no more than 10 percent and most of it in the ghost towns of Tikrit, the capital of Anbar, and the refinery town of Baiji, parts of which the Iraqi army does not dare enter.
These are the “populated areas” the US president referred to.
He carefully skirted around the results of the US “hitting ISIL harder than ever.”
They are listed here by our military sources:
1. ISIS has suffered roughly 10,000 fatalities in Iraq and Syria to date, but only 12 percent of them from American or Russian air strikes. The remaining 88 percent were killed in battle.
2. This formidable casualty count has not reduced the terrorist organization’s military strength or diminished its operational abilities, because its losses are more than refilled by a still larger number of fighters joining ISIS from around the globe.
3. In December 2015, ISIS fighting strength hit a new high of 70,000 – half from countries outside Syria or Iraq, such as the US, Canada, Britain, France, Spain, Holland and Russia. A fresh influx of fighters arrived in recent months from Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.
4. All the same, the Islamic State is beginning to feel the strain of stepped-up Russian assaults, and has taken note of US-Russian cooperation in northern Syria, a front to which ISIS gives top priority.
(See last DEBKA Weekly issue 688: The Secret Euphrates Pact between Obama and Putin),
The Islamists have reacted by imposing mandatory conscription on jihadists aged 18 to 35 in the Syrian and Iraq territories under its control. They expect to raise another 10,000 troops.
Past draft dodgers were usually executed when captured.
5. This week, ISIS is concentrating its military effort on three fronts: northern Syria and the two Iraqi cities it holds – Ramadi (see separate article on the battle for this city) and Mosul, Iraq’s second city after Baghdad.
6. ISIS commanders, especially the former Iraqi generals who joined the jihadist group, have charted plans well in advance of an offensive for retaking Mosul, by making the town the strongest fortress of the Islamic Caliphate.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources, a combined army of Americans, Iraqi forces, Kurdish autonomous region (KRG) peshmerga and Iraqi Shiite militias, under Iranian Revolutionary Guards command, is seen getting set to retake Mosul by next spring or summer.
Determined to deprive President Obama of a game-changing victory shortly before he departs the White House, the jihadists are already busy planting hundreds of trucks filled with explosives at strategic points around the city for blocking a tank or infantry invasion. Western military sources estimate that a total of 1,000 and 1,200 truck bombs will eventually be in position.
The jihadists are also digging and fortifying tunnels under the neighborhoods envisaged as sites of battle to give their fighters a tactical advantage.
Western military sources estimate that it would take an army of no less than 160,000 troops, trained in guerrilla warfare, and fighting house by house, to wrest the fortified sections of Mosul from ISIS. There is not the slightest chance of the Obama administration and its coalition allies raising and deploying an army of this size.

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