Kurdish and Iraqi Forces Push to Retake Mosul Dam

Kurdish and Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, launched a counter-offensive Sunday night against Islamic State fighters who have held the strategic Mosul dam in northern Iraq. An Iraqi military spokesman said the dam, which is the largest in Iraq, had been "fully cleansed." However, Kurdish officials said pesh merga forces had not taken complete ...

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Kurdish and Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, launched a counter-offensive Sunday night against Islamic State fighters who have held the strategic Mosul dam in northern Iraq. An Iraqi military spokesman said the dam, which is the largest in Iraq, had been "fully cleansed." However, Kurdish officials said pesh merga forces had not taken complete control of the dam and journalists reported continued fighting. The United States resumed targeted airstrikes on Friday. President Barack Obama said the operations would be "limited in their scope and duration as necessary to support the Iraqi forces." Britain has also increased its military involvement in Iraq in a campaign that Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon stated, "is not simply a humanitarian mission" and could last "weeks and months." Prime Minister David Cameron wrote that Britain could not "turn a blind eye" and must use all its resources to achieve "true security." However, he said Britain would not send ground forces.

Syria

Syrian pro-government forces launched about 26 airstrikes Sunday targeting Islamic State positions in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attacks killed at least 31 Islamic State fighters, though a resident said only about 30 percent of the strikes hit territory held by militants, with the remainder hitting civilian areas. Meanwhile, the Observatory claimed the Islamic State has executed 700 members of the al-Sheitaat tribe in Syria's eastern Deir al-Zour province over the past two weeks.

Kurdish and Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. airstrikes, launched a counter-offensive Sunday night against Islamic State fighters who have held the strategic Mosul dam in northern Iraq. An Iraqi military spokesman said the dam, which is the largest in Iraq, had been "fully cleansed." However, Kurdish officials said pesh merga forces had not taken complete control of the dam and journalists reported continued fighting. The United States resumed targeted airstrikes on Friday. President Barack Obama said the operations would be "limited in their scope and duration as necessary to support the Iraqi forces." Britain has also increased its military involvement in Iraq in a campaign that Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon stated, "is not simply a humanitarian mission" and could last "weeks and months." Prime Minister David Cameron wrote that Britain could not "turn a blind eye" and must use all its resources to achieve "true security." However, he said Britain would not send ground forces.

Syria

Syrian pro-government forces launched about 26 airstrikes Sunday targeting Islamic State positions in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa. According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attacks killed at least 31 Islamic State fighters, though a resident said only about 30 percent of the strikes hit territory held by militants, with the remainder hitting civilian areas. Meanwhile, the Observatory claimed the Islamic State has executed 700 members of the al-Sheitaat tribe in Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zour province over the past two weeks.

Headlines

  • Palestinian and Israeli officials have resumed indirect talks in Cairo indicating a desire for an extension of a five-day cease-fire meanwhile, Israeli forces destroyed the West Bank homes of two suspects in the killings of three Israeli teens.
  • Britain has delayed the release of a report, which officials say found that the Muslim Brotherhood should not be designated a terrorist organization, due to concerns over anticipated reactions.
  • Unidentified war planes were seen flying over the Libyan capital of Tripoli Monday and residents reported several explosions as rival militias continued fighting in parts of the city.
  • A strong earthquake struck a remote region near Iran’s border with Iraq Monday injuring at least 60 people and causing significant damage.
  • Gunmen attacked the motorcade of a Saudi prince in Paris late Sunday stealing around $330,000 and "sensitive" embassy documents.

Arguments and Analysis

The Massacre One Year Later‘ (Ahmad Shokr, MERIP)

"The assault on Raba’a was indeed a climax, but of a different sort. The brutal clearing of the square was the endpoint of a strategy pursued by Egyptian political elites of all stripes, but most fatefully by leaders of the security and intelligence apparatus, in which politics was treated as an existential question governed by zero-sum calculations. That ‘peaceful alternatives’ were never seriously pursued, as former vice president Mohamed ElBaradei stressed in his letter of resignation on the day of the killings, has almost vanished from memory. Finishing the job was made easier by a hysterical media campaign to demonize Muslim Brothers as fifth columnists, creating a toxic climate where the public could consent to mass killing. The post-June 30 public mood, which had been poisoned by a kind of anti-politics that fetishized ‘stability’ and yearned for a reversal of the uncertainty and disorder of the previous three and a half years no matter the cost, could not have been more favorable to the elite’s machinations."

Isis: a portrait of the menace this is sweeping my homeland‘ (Hassan Hassan, The Guardian)

"From a military perspective, Isis thrived on the disunity of the Syrian rebels and the inconsistencies of their backers. When al-Baghdadi announced the merger between his group in Iraq and Jabhat al-Nusra, the group started to act as a state in rebel-held areas. Despite its low numbers, Isis established a reign of terror in many areas across Syria. It alienated most of the rebel groups by creating smothering checkpoints, confiscating weapons and imposing its ideology on the local population, something Jabhat al-Nusra had avoided. By the end of last year, all rebel groups declared war against Isis and drove it out of Idlib, most of Aleppo and Deir Ezzor. But the war cost the rebels a lot: around 7,000 people were killed in the battles against Isis and the main rebel coalitions started to disintegrate as a result of the fighting. The Islamic Front, once the most powerful rebel coalition, is now a shell of its former self. Jabhat al-Nusra, once the most effective rebel group, is struggling to halt the drifting of its fighters or sympathisers to Isis, especially after it lost its stronghold in Deir Ezzor."

— Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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