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Old 08-17-2014, 11:48 PM
WABA WABA is offline
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Default Kurdish forces on brink of re-capturing Mosul Dam

The Telegraph

Monday 18 August 2014

Mosul Dam, which Islamic State fighters seized a week ago, target of attack by Kurds with US air support in what would represent biggest victory against jihadists since they launched their sweeping offensive through Iraq in early June

Standing by their machine guns on mounted pick-ups, Kurdish peshmerga fighters watched through binoculars as the jihadists from the Islamic State drove to rescue their dying colleagues from the aftermath of an American airstrike.

Supported by US drones and F-18 fighters, their men had pushed forward, battling the militants from the Islamic State until their target was in sight.

Peshmerga fighters were on the brink of capturing the of Mosul dam on Sunday night, a strategically vital position in the fight to end the jihadist's advance in Iraq.

The biggest intervention in Iraq by the United States since its troops pulled out of the country in 2011, the operation appeared to signal a shift from the limited airstrikes conducted so far by the US to defend civilian centres.

"Now the Islamic State know we have the air force protecting us, they are on the run," said Ali Awni, a Kurdish politician speaking from a frontline of the offensive.

Peshmerga soldiers look on as American forces strike IS positions around Mosul (Sam Tarling/The Telegraph)

Until last week, Islamic State fighters were in the throes of a lightning advance across the dry undulating planes of northern Iraq, seizing towns and villages and bringing them within miles of the embryonic Kurdish capital Erbil.

For several days they have controlled parts of Mosul dam on the Tigris river, a vast construction project by ousted dictator Saddam Hussein.

The dam's 11 billion cubic metres of water supply the cities, towns and villages of millions of Iraqis and reportedly produces over 1000 megawatts of electricity.

Possession of the dam was vital for the jihadists who, after taking control of Iraq's second city of Mosul in June, have been systematically trying to win the territory and resources required to carve their own Islamic caliphate.

Equally, winning back the dam is a necessary objective for the Kurds before trying to attack Mosul city itself, local commanders explained.

If misused, the power of the water held in Mosul dam could yield devastating consequences.

"We have to take back Mosul Dam before we do anything else," a Kurdish special forces commander, who has been directly coordinating with the US in the ongoing offensive, told the Telegraph. "If the Islamic State bomb the dam, it would put Mosul underwater."

"They won't likely do that now because they control Mosul. But if the city was out of their control; who knows."

The jihadists have already cut supplies to some villages in the north of the country that have not joined their cause.

In the village of Mahmour, 30 miles from Erbil, residents told the Telegraph that their taps dried up after the militants took the dam.

Mr Awni said: "The Islamic State stopped the supply of water to 150,000 people in this area. We used tankers and dug wells to supply these villages with an alternative source of water".

Kurdish forces and US special advisers, who now share a military operations room in Iraq, put together a plan to end the militant's hold on the water supply.

Over the weekend, US war planes softened up Islamic State's front lines.

US Central Command said fighter jets, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft carried out 14 strikes on Sunday near the Mosul Dam, as well as nine strikes on Saturday.

Sunday's strikes reportedly destroyed 10 Islamic State armed vehicles, seven Islamic State Humvees, two armoured personnel carriers and one Islamic State checkpoint.

On Sunday, the Telegraph witnessed the power of the bombardments first hand after being given exclusive access by Kurdish troops to part of the frontline in the Mosul dam offensive.

"We went for their main bases," the Kurdish special forces commander said, who did not give his name as he did not have the authorisation to speak.

Pouring over a map of the area, he illustrated how the peshmerga had marched west over the weekend, retaking three villages previously controlled by the Islamic State.

As they advanced Kurdish fighters locked down Sunni Arab villages, advising them to send their women to a safer area and then forbidding movement for male residents in and out of the towns in case they should try to join ranks with the jihadists.

Since seizing Mosul, Islamic State fighters have advanced into Iraq largely with the support of local Sunni Arab tribesmen who were disenchanted with what they saw as a pro-Shia government in Baghdad.

The Mosul dam (AFP)

By early evening on Sunday peshmerga fighters had pushed 15 miles forward, bringing them to the edge of a bridge that arched over to the dam.

"The Islamic State fighters have booby trapped the bridge so we cannot cross," the commander said. "It was a hard fight to get here, I have lost two men, and sent three to hospital."

The fruits and scale of their efforts were clear from their hilltop position at Nawaran, 30 miles south of the dam: plumes of smoke, the tell-tale signs of the American bombs dotted the vast Iraq plain.

The wind carried with it a sickly stench from an abandoned settlement below.

"That's the smell of the rotting corpses of the Islamic State fighters," said Mr Awni. "They did not take the bodies when they left."
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Old 08-28-2014, 12:23 PM
noman noman is offline
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So maybe the Kurds can carve themsleves a nation-state in Mosul-provided the Sunni -or who ever takes power in Bagdad-lets them alone....I think not. Whoever the strongman will be-he'll gather a armored force to take Mosul and the dam and capture Kurdish territority...the kurds will then resort to guerrilla warfare to drive him out..and will probably do a coast of a great many kurdish lives...somethings never change!
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by noman View Post
So maybe the Kurds can carve themsleves a nation-state in Mosul-provided the Sunni -or who ever takes power in Bagdad-lets them alone....I think not. Whoever the strongman will be-he'll gather a armored force to take Mosul and the dam and capture Kurdish territority...the kurds will then resort to guerrilla warfare to drive him out..and will probably do a coast of a great many kurdish lives...somethings never change!
I think you're underestimating the assistance the Kurds hve received and overestimating the current capabilities of the Iraqi army. The Kurds have long possessed adequate means to wage limited guerrilla war, so it only stands to figure that with years of autonomy and help from various nations like Israel (and apparently even Turkey) they have likely put together a decent defense force. I doubt that they'd have any sort of offensive capability, like launching an armored thrust, but they don't need to. An adequate supply of anti-tank weapons is more what they'd need and would be painfully easy to come by.

Compare this to the current Iraqi army--the one that just did a spring away from ISIS. They don't really have much of an offensive capability either, but I have serious doubts of even their defensive capabilities. Anyway, without the ability to project military power Iraq simply can do nothing to stop the Kurds, save for taking some economic and politic moves geared toward twisting some arms. I'd wager this will have some short term effect until people get tired of the Iraqis demanding the Kurds return to the fold and then it'll all be over: an independent Kurdistan. From there I'd be much more worried about the Kurds becoming destabilized from infighting, from unfriendliness moving into their new country, and the Turks and Iranians pulling shenanigans to help destabilize the Kurdish economy and undermine the safety and security of the population. Now THAT will be the real threat to the Kurdish state. Oh, and selling their oil (I suppose I'd put that in the shenanigans column above tho).

As an aside, I deeply hope they declare indepence soon. History has a cruel way of snatching away opportunity and the Kurds are the single largest stateless people on the planet. I sincerely hope they will look on Israel as a genuine friend and that Israel will continue to help them as much as is possible.
"I really don't mind if you sit this one out. My word's but a whisper--your deafness a SHOUT!
I may make you feel, but I can't make you think."
-opening lines to Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. Written by Ian Anderson (1972)
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