ISIS sidetracks Mosul operation to fronts around the city

A week into the Mosul offensive, the combined US-Iraqi-Kurdish armies have so far not broken through the defensive belt ISIS has thrown around the town, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. The terrorist group has moreover mounted several counter-attacks on a wider scale than generally reported.  In Kirkuk, clashes between Kurdish and Islamist fighters continued Sunday on the third day of the ISIS raid of the oil city, despite claims that Kurdish authorities had regained control. At least 80 dead are reported there.

ISIS also attacked the Anbar provincial town of Rutba, 700km southeast of Mosul. This town is the key to control of the Baghdad-Amman highway and is situated near the Ayn al-Asad Air Base, the biggest US military facility in Iraq, where US air and special operations units are housed. The fighting there continues.

North of Mosul, a Kurdish Peshmerga contingent is engaged in a major battle to seize ISIS strongholds in the town of Bashiqa. There, despite Kurdish advances, part of the city remains in ISIS hands. And east of Mosul, Iraqi forces which went into action Friday to wrest Al-Hamdaniyah from ISIS are still far from their goal.

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