Syrian War Battle for Mosul and Aleppo

Syrian War Battle for Mosul and Aleppo

The Syrian War, Battle for Mosul & Aleppo – अमरीका और रूस के बीच घमासान – UPSC/IAS/PSC

The battle to retake Mosul from the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) began several weeks ago.

The battle to drive Syrian rebels out of Aleppo has been going on for more than four years.

Although both battles are components of the complicated conflict raging across Syria and Iraq, the tactics employed by the attackers differ dramatically and reflect not only different doctrines of how to fight insurgents, but also different views about the future of the two countries.

Backed by U.S.-led coalition airpower and ground support from the United States and Turkey, Kurdish peshmerga forces and Sunni tribal units are pushing toward the city of Mosul from the north and northeast while Iraqi regular army units and predominantly Shiite militias are entering the city from the south and southeast.

ISIS fighters in Mosul could still escape to the west, as some already have, although Iranian-backed Iraqi militiamen are reportedly moving to cut off the road from Mosul to Raqqa, the ISIS’s capital in Syria.

This raises a strategic question. A great many of ISIS’s combatants are foreign fighters — jihadist volunteers who have flocked to ISIS from around the world.

If the Islamic State falls — that is, if the territory it holds is recaptured — its leaders and local fighters can shave their beards and continue their armed struggle underground, as they did for many years in Iraq, and as most military analysts suspect they will do again.

But this is not an option for foreigners who can easily be identified. The foreign fighters must flee to other jihadist fronts, risk returning home or fight to the death where they are.

All three possibilities are happening.

From the perspective of the countries whose nationals have joined ISIS by the thousands, the return of these fighters from Syria and Iraq raises the danger of new jihadist uprisings and more terrorist attacks.

These countries might prefer to see as many ISIS fighters as possible corralled and captured or killed in Iraq and Syria.

But closing the ring, leaving an army of ISIS fighters in Mosul with no options but to surrender or die fighting, will only increase the difficulty of retaking the city.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of ISIS — who reportedly left Mosul before the battle — has ordered the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters who remain in the city not to retreat, but to wreak havoc on the advancing enemy.

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