The second phase of the Iraqi operation to liberate Mosul will begin any day now, but the ground offensive has already produced a treasure trove of intelligence, thanks in part to the compulsive documentation by the Islamic State.
The eastern part of the city has been freed from two years of brutal rule by ISIS, a time in which the terrorist group amassed voluminous records that have now been captured and are being exploited by Iraq and U.S. intelligence.
“I can tell you that in Mosul, a huge amount of material has been gathered,” said Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, a British general who serves as deputy commander for the counter-ISIS coalition.
“You know that Daesh [ISIS] are a very bureaucratic organization. They keep records,” Jones told Pentagon reporters in a briefing from Baghdad Wednesday. “It would be speculation at this stage as to what that material might lead to. But I think in all likelihood it will point to terror plots.”
Coalition officials paint a picture of ISIS in Iraq and Syria as a doomed fighting force, with fewer and fewer resources and no realistic chance of prevailing against the methodical advance of forces arrayed against them.
In Iraq, the next challenge is for Iraqi forces to move across the Tigris River to liberate the older, more densely populated western part of the city.
“Soon, and at a time of their choosing, the Iraqi Security Forces will move in to start the liberation of west Mosul,” Jones said. “Be under no illusion: The fight will not be easy. The tight streets and alleyways of the old city will be tough to clear. But the Iraqi forces have adapted to ISIS’ tactics and they will drive back the enemy whose finite resources wane with each passing day.”
Jones said the increasing use of small commercial-off-the-shelf drones by ISIS is becoming “an increasingly insidious threat in Iraq” to the civilian population, but is not militarily significant.
“The thing that’s most concerning is they are being used increasingly to drop grenades and other explosive munitions on the innocent civilians,” Jones said. “While this is a typically inhumane and indiscriminate weapon, it’s not a game-changer.”
In Syria, Jones said the Syrian Democratic Coalition that includes a large number of Arab fighters is steadily advancing on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital.
“They’re pushing the enemy back, they’re wearing down the enemy’s capability and they’re closing in as we speak on the city of Raqqa, exactly as they said they would do,” Jones said, “So those forces are proving themselves, absolutely.”
Source: Washington Examiner
By: Jamic McIntyre
15 February 2017