Iraqi Military Finishes Clearing Ramadi as Coalition Weighs Changes

The Iraqi military announced today that it has cleared the last remaining pockets of resistance from Ramadi, including the surrounding areas of Sajariyya, Jubiyya, and Hasibah. Iraqi forces, in coordination with U.S. airstrikes and local militias, seized most of the city in December but have been fighting with Islamic State fighters in isolated portions of ...

GettyImages-509140760
GettyImages-509140760

The Iraqi military announced today that it has cleared the last remaining pockets of resistance from Ramadi, including the surrounding areas of Sajariyya, Jubiyya, and Hasibah. Iraqi forces, in coordination with U.S. airstrikes and local militias, seized most of the city in December but have been fighting with Islamic State fighters in isolated portions of the city since then. The Iraqi military also said that they have secured the main road connecting Ramadi to Baghdad.

Canada will halt its participation in the coalition’s air campaign against the Islamic State effective February 22 but will increase the number of Special Forces working to train Iraqi troops, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, following a similar offer from Saudi Arabia, announced it was prepared to contribute ground troops to an international military intervention in Syria to fight the Islamic State; "Our position throughout has been that a real campaign against [the Islamic State] has to include a ground force,” the Emirati foreign minister said. The defense ministers of nations participating in the military coalition are due to meet this week in Brussels to discuss possible shifts in strategy.

Captured Member of Islamic State Charged in Death of U.S. Hostage

The Iraqi military announced today that it has cleared the last remaining pockets of resistance from Ramadi, including the surrounding areas of Sajariyya, Jubiyya, and Hasibah. Iraqi forces, in coordination with U.S. airstrikes and local militias, seized most of the city in December but have been fighting with Islamic State fighters in isolated portions of the city since then. The Iraqi military also said that they have secured the main road connecting Ramadi to Baghdad.

Canada will halt its participation in the coalition’s air campaign against the Islamic State effective February 22 but will increase the number of Special Forces working to train Iraqi troops, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates, following a similar offer from Saudi Arabia, announced it was prepared to contribute ground troops to an international military intervention in Syria to fight the Islamic State; “Our position throughout has been that a real campaign against [the Islamic State] has to include a ground force,” the Emirati foreign minister said. The defense ministers of nations participating in the military coalition are due to meet this week in Brussels to discuss possible shifts in strategy.

Captured Member of Islamic State Charged in Death of U.S. Hostage

Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, the wife of Islamic State logistics chief Abu Sayyaf, who was captured last year in a raid in Syria that killed her husband, was charged yesterday in a federal court in Virginia. Bahar, who is also known as Umm Sayyaf, will be tried for conspiracy in the death of Islamic State hostage Kayla Mueller based on information about Mueller’s captivity she provided to the FBI.

Headlines

  • The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees called on Turkey today to open its borders to accommodate the influx of thousands of refugees fleeing the Assad regime’s offensive in Aleppo.

 

  • Feuding jihadists from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula turned on each other in the Yemeni town of Zinjibar, killing seven militants, in an apparent power struggle precipitated by the death of AQAP senior official Jalal Baliedy in a drone strike last week.

 

  • The Italian government is increasing pressure on Egyptian authorities to explain what happened to Giulio Regini, a graduate student who was killed while studying labor movements in Cairo; Regini was tortured before being killed and international suspicion has been placed on the Egyptian security services.

 

  • According to an assessment from the end of January conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and made public by the Iraqi parliament, the Mosul Dam is showing “signs of distress” and is at a “significantly higher risk of failure” than previously understood; the failure of the dam would endanger 500,000 people.

 

  • A car bombing targeting a police officers’ club in Damascus killed at least eight people and wounded 20 others, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Arguments and Analysis

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Deaths in Detention in the Syrian Arab Republic” (U.N. Human Rights Council)

“In the accounts collected from over 500 survivors of Government detention centres between March 2011 and November 2015, almost all described having been the victims of and witnesses to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment. Over 200 former Government detainees witnessed one or more deaths in custody. Former detainees detailed how cellmates were killed as they were beaten to death during interrogations and in their cells, or died as a result of severe injuries sustained due to torture or ill treatment. Others perished as a consequence of inhuman living conditions inflicted on the prison population, including severe overcrowding, lack of food, and unclean drinking water. Prisoners were given inadequate or no medical care, and died in large numbers from preventable conditions such as diarrhoea or other contagious infections spread in the unhygienic and overcrowded cells.”

 

The Long Road to Mosul” (Denise Natali, War on the Rocks)

“Liberating Mosul is more difficult than the recent Ramadi offensive largely due to demographics, geography, and politics. Known by Iraqis as the ‘city of a million officers,’ Mosul retains the large presence of Saddam Hussein’s former Ba’athist generals and officers. These influences are Sunni Arab, Iraqi nationalist, anti-Iranian, and divided between secularist and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups. Mosul also has mixed urban and tribal groups, as well as minorities (especially Yezidis, Assyrians, and Kurds) in the city and outlying areas. It is over three times the size of Ramadi and has nearly 700,000 civilians still living inside the city, making the use of coalition airstrikes (which were critical to Ramadi’s success) a less likely option. Further, Mosul’s proximity to Syria means that local populations need to be assured that ISIL will not return. If the Syrian border and outlying areas are not secured, then people will not volunteer to fight or support anti-ISIL efforts, even discreetly.”

-J. Dana Stuster

MOADH AL-DULAIMI/AFP/Getty Images

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