Mosul: from the Assyrians to the jihadists

The scale of the battle

To begin to examine the balance of power. Directly in the city are around 5-9 thousand militants. All in all the Mosul front, given the militia of the Caliphate can be set from 17 to 30 thousand combatants. However, the city has a material part to supply weapons and 3-4 divisions. Furthermore, the Islamic state in Mosul is great support for the civilians from among the Sunnis, and people who don’t support the militants, often used against their will as human shields.

The coalition has deployed 60,000 Iraqi soldiers, 6,000 soldiers of the Kurdish militia Peshmerga and the 10,000 Shiite militias supported by Iran. International forces are 5,000 American soldiers, 3,000 NATO soldiers and 500 French soldiers. Coalition forces located 60 kilometers South of Mosul in the town of Kayar, which was liberated from ISIS in the summer of 2016. The Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi said that the Iraqi army and Iraqi national police will enter the city itself.

By October it was reported about the withdrawal of troops to the outskirts of the city in November about reaching 10 km turn on some fronts. Government forces and their allies came close to urban areas. The loss for October was about 1,000 soldiers killed, wounded and broken. And that’s not counting the casualties among the Kurds. And «for November, according to the UN, killed nearly 2 000 Iraqi military. To give a sense of scale: the terrible cost of the Russian army nearly a thousand dead, but for more than 2 months, and after Grozny fell. And in Mosul is controlled by a fairly narrow rim in the Eastern part of the city. And this is without taking into account losses «Peshmerga». In General, the ISIS do not want to give up and the fight is fierce,» writes well-known military historian Eugene Noreen. Mid-December, according to the force commander of the anti-terrorism, Iraq, Lieutenant-General Abdel-Ghani al-Asadi, in the battle for Mosul fighters of the Iraqi special forces killed 992 militants. The Iraqis reported that currently supervise 19 districts of Mosul from 126, that is, 30% of the area of the Eastern half of the city.

The tactics of the jihadists

Islamists are using unconventional tactics. They refused conventional combined arms combat and use other, many times proven techniques. This first «black» knocked out oil infrastructure around the city and set fire to naslushatsya oil to complicate aiming for aviation.

The second factor was the massive use of suicide bombers. Hiking a suicide bomber using an explosive belt, not the worst invention. The militants are stuffed with explosives and shrapnel cars, armor, or civilian equipment, for example, large construction tractors. Such Shahid-mobiles hide behind heavy machine-gun and artillery fire and shots fired anti-tank missiles (ATGM), achieve positions of government forces and explode, destroying or damaging even heavy armor. After this often, should have normal attack the jihadists.

The third negative factor is a truly massive use of snipers in the defense. This is often experienced shooters, who are fighting for several years. They use rifles of all calibers, combine the tactics of several sniper teams in the defense, combine waste with the attacks of suicide bombers. Thus, even a small group of Islamists can greatly slow down the offensive of the government forces. In houses where the shooters are Islamists equip their position home to the civilian population is «black» to hide behind a human shield. It is known that fighters carved artisanal many types of weapons. Bad news for the Iraqi elite «Gold division» was the use of homemade large-caliber rifles, made from the trunks of twin anti-aircraft guns of the Soviet production of ZU-23. Armor-piercing projectile penetrates the defense of any light armor currently in service with the Iraqi government army, at a distance of 1000-1500 meters. As the American HMMWV, better known as «hammer», did not protect from those hits. (Machines of this type are still the most massive standing armed government forces).

The rebels skillfully used the ATRA, able to maneuver with armored vehicles in urban areas, causing an unexpected flank attacks. They make drones of the primitive components (as in aeromodelling circles). Army of cheap drones, equipped with cameras, are reliable fighters «eyes» in the rapidly changing environment of the modern battlefield.

Permanent error aviation coalition, which claimed the lives of more than 120 Iraqi soldiers, do not add optimism ordinary soldiers. Fierce resistance from the intransigent jihadists become more and more difficult to overcome. Amid growing losses, the successes in Mosul seem to be too modest, especially if you remember the example of the assault on Aleppo, Syria. One explanation that is shared by some military experts, is that the Iraqi army and its allies, oddly enough, does not seek to destroy the jihadists with their hands, and intentionally turn a blind eye to the withdrawal of fighters in the direction of Syrian Raqqa

Fighting continues. The Iraqis say about the possible capture of Mosul for the new year. But it is obvious that this problem is not resolved in the designated time.

The history of Mosul

The Iraqi city of Mosul is situated on the Western banks of the famous Tigris river. Readers, faithfully mastered in school history, will immediately remember that the Tigris river and flowing nearly parallel to it, the Euphrates river is formed Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of human civilization. The famous valley between the two great rivers hide ancient mysteries, seeing them, we remember Alexander the great and the powerful Xerxes, the wonders of the world and the biblical Babylon.

The first mention of Mosul found in various sources over the 700 years BC Interestingly, Mosul, or as the locals call it El Musel, located opposite the remnants of the ancient capital of the powerful military Empire, the Assyrian Empire, Nineveh, which according to legend was destroyed in the year 713 BC.

The biblical prophet Nahum predicted the destruction of the city for the wickedness and the war with Israel. Ancient king of Assyria Assurbanipal arranged in Nineveh his famous library. She gave archaeologists with invaluable knowledge about the ancient history of Mesopotamia. Up to 30 thousand clay tablets were found during the excavations of the library, including the famous «epic of Gilgamesh». Near the town are the graves of such famous historical characters like the biblical prophet Jonah. Until 2014, Mosul was a center of Nestorian Christianity, one of the ancient branches of the Constantinople Orthodoxy. There are also many beautiful mosques, one of which he built himself «Caliph Umar», one of the first Caliphs to the present the great Caliphate in the VII century. Another mosque dedicated to the prophet Yunus (Jonah Christianity). There were the relics of the prophet with the tooth of a whale, which swallowed him. The mosque was blown up by ISIS in 2014.

The long history of Mosul is replete with references to the great men of his time and the events which survived the town being in one of the oldest regions settled by humans. Through the city passed one of the ancient historians Xenophon. Great kings of the Sassanid dynasty, the powerful caliphs and even the legendary hero of the Crusades Saladin was besieging the walls of that city. Mosul has twice survived the invasion of the Mongols under the leadership of Hulagu and later the famous Tamerlane. In the city visited the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent.


France and Britain divided the land according to the results of the First world war until 1926, the town finally became part of the state of Iraq as the capital of the province of Nineveh. 20 years in the province of Nineveh was discovered natural gas and oil. The city also exports marble and other breeds of building stone. In 1967 he opened Mosul University, which coupled with the medical College gave the possibility of access of citizens to quality education and medicine. Worked for a large oil refinery. In 1991, when he began the operation «desert Storm», the city has installed unmanned area, lasted until 2003, when the U.S. led coalition once again invaded Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein. These events marked the beginning of the black pages in the history of the city in particular and the country as a whole. The beginning of the XXI century Mosul has become a classic city destroyed Iraq.

The city’s population is diverse. Religions, denominations, peoples all mixed up in Mosul. Natives of the town call Malawi. To them, by the way, owns many statesmen of modern Iraq. In 2014, the city’s population of two million people: Kurds, Arabs, Turks, Jews, Turkomans, Assyrians, Armenians. All these people lived in tranquility and peace. At least statistics say that the whole era of Saddam Hussein, the city’s population only grew, and ethnic and religious conflicts have been reduced to an insignificant minimum. And from 1987 to 2002, the population increased from 680 thousand to 1 million 800 thousand people, which brought Mosul to the number of one of the three cities of Iraq. The only ugly page of this stage was how the Baath party from the 1960s tried to pursue a policy of «arabization» of the Kurdish population. The Kurds were forbidden to speak their language, has created problems with housing and employment. However, in practice, taking into account East mentality and a strong, cohesive Kurdish society, which we see in our time, we can assume that the «arabization» of Kurds did not succeed, and even on the contrary — even more unites this divided people. Meanwhile, the logic «Baasovtsev» and later Saddam is quite clear: it is impossible to leave such a strategic node without control, so the ruling Sunni minority has decided to strengthen its position in the city and the region.

Completing the historical review, it should be noted that during the second invasion of the US and their coalition allies in Iraq in 2003, the city practically has not suffered. The Kurdish majority of the population took an openly Pro-American position. Otherwise, the Kurds assisted us troops. The city was not exposed to strong air strikes, as during the Iran-Iraq war, when it was destroyed Mosul refinery. True, Saddam Hussein Iraqi 5 corps of the army left the city on 11 April 2003, no resistance, and after 2 days and completely surrendered to the Americans. A few months later in a shootout with the Americans killed Saddam’s sons, Uday and kusay, were in town (they tried to avoid his arrest).

The Cradle Of The Caliphate

Saddam Hussein remembered about the events of 1991 and probably assumed that this invasion did not last. He is well prepared for any attempt of the invasion of Iraq and has created a secret underground organization, whose network covers the whole country. First and foremost we are talking about the Baath party, the military and Iraqi intelligence and counterintelligence. When Hussein was captured and hanged by the Americans, it seemed that the war should stop, but then the light began to appear organized cells of resistance throughout the country. Mosul, a city of one million, especially with such a variegated ethnic composition, could not avoid the fate of becoming one of the centers of resistance, sabotage and guerrilla fighting. For the time until 2014, when the city was taken by ISIL forces, in the city there were constant terrorist attacks, guerrilla attacks, local skirmishes. The city’s population declined sharply. Yezidis, Christians and Jews were forced to flee the light, leaving their homes and belongings.

The ongoing threats and executions of civilians made it impossible to have a normal life, and discontinuance of social services, according to some, the University, the demolition of monuments of culture and barbaric attitude to the world heritage sites UNESCO adds insecurity. At the moment people can not trust either the government of Iraq, nor, especially, to the militants. The number of civilians, women, children and the elderly in the city is still unknown, it is unknown how many residents managed to escape from the city in 2014, but the approximate number is estimated at least 500 thousand people.

The Kurds tried to take matters into their own hands all the time since 2003, but they were not allowed to do the occupation command of the coalition, the new government of Iraq. The Kurds could not stop the capture of the city IG and even offered to do it, but without getting permission to do so, were forced to watch from the sidelines as the city fell in a matter of days under the attacks of is militants. Moreover, it is known that the Kurds were repeatedly brought to the attention of Nuri al-Maliki, the former Prime Minister of Iraq, the plans of the Islamists to hit the city. Saddam’s former military, members of the Baath party, unhappy with the current course of the government, used Islam and the help of some foreign countries to create a strong and well-ideological groups which became ISIS. In all likelihood, the Iraqi government underestimated the potential terrorists, and it was an unpleasant surprise drop in such a large city, in less than 6 days. The Caliphate was able to concentrate up to three(!) divisions with the old Iraqi weapons of the SovietChinese-style and modern American technology, obtained in battles with units of government forces. In fact, the mass Exodus from the city began at this time.

Volunteer Kurdish self-defense «Peshmerga» even tried to attack the city to recapture it from the Islamists, but without the support of the armed forces, retreated with losses.

It is worth mentioning that Mosul was the first major city that was captured by ISIS militants. Many people even welcomed the militants. The first time they tested methods of civil management and control of the civilian population in Mosul. Was introduced Sharia law flourished, and sexual slavery, which drew women-Muslim women. There’s also the «black» showed their terrible punishment and other inhuman things, destroyed shrines and unique cultural values that drew thousands of people to Islam and killed dissenters.

In Mosul, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of ISIS, declared a Caliphate sinister. On 29 June, a spokesman for the group, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani posted on «YouTube» address said: «the Shura Council of the Islamic state decided to establish an Islamic Caliphate — a dream in the heart of every Muslim and the hope of all jihadists — which will stretch from Aleppo to Diyala in Iraq. The Caliph appointed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He is the Imam and Caliph of Muslims around the world.» Recall that at the height of quasihelical reached the vast territory from the outskirts of Damascus in Syria to the homeland of Saddam Hussein’s city of Tikrit in Iraq.

In 2015, the government of Iraq announced plans for the return of Mosul. In March 2016 began the offensive of the government troops of Iraq and all «antiepilepsy» forces in order to liberate the ancient city.

Mosul: from the Assyrians to the jihadists 29.12.2016

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