Mosul offensive (2015)
The Mosul offensive (2015) was an offensive launched by Kurdish Peshmerga forces on 21 January 2015, with the objective of severing key ISIL supply routes to Mosul, Iraq, and to recapture neighboring areas around Mosul. The effort was supported by US-led coalition airstrikes. The Iraqi Army was widely expected to launch the planned operation to retake the actual city of Mosul in the Spring of 2015, but the offensive was postponed to October 2016, after Ramadi fell to ISIL in May 2015.
|Mosul offensive (2015)|
|Part of the Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017),|
the Spillover of the Syrian Civil War, and
the Military intervention against ISIL
Map of the Kurdish-launched Mosul offensive in early 2015
|Commanders and leaders|
(top ISIL commander in Mosul)
|Casualties and losses|
|Unknown||256+ militants killed|
|3 civilians killed|
Ever since the city of Mosul fell to ISIL forces on 10 June 2014, the United States and the Iraqi Government had been planning to retake the city. Initially, the original plan called for an assault on Mosul in July or August 2015, even though some US officials claimed that an attack at that point would be "too late." On December 25, 2014, after Hassan Saeed Al-Jabouri, the ISIL governor of Mosul, was killed by a US-led Coalition airstrike in Mosul, it was revealed that the US planned to retake the city of Mosul in January 2015. In late January 2015, Iraqi Army forces began preparing for the assault on Mosul.
On 21 January 2015, 5,000 Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers liberated multiple villages neighboring Mosul, amid speculation that the Iraqi Army was preparing for an assault on Mosul. The Peshmerga forces also disrupted essential ISIL supply routes between Mosul, Tal Afar, and Syria, and they reclaimed over 500 kilometers of land in the region. However, Kurdish officials states that they do not plan to move beyond primarily-Kurdish areas, and that retaking the city of Mosul itself was the responsibility of the Iraqi Army. An estimated 200 ISIL fighters were killed. Among the ISIL militants killed was the new ISIL governor of the Nineveh Governorate. Peshmerga forces also positioned themselves on three fronts to the northwest of Mosul, near Badush Dam. Kurdish forces reported firing 20 Grad missiles into Mosul, upon receiving intelligence that ISIL militants were gathering to meet near the city's Zuhour neighborhood. Firing from about 12 miles north of Mosul, Captain Shivan Ahmed said the rockets hit their targets. ISIL claimed that the rockets hit civilians.
On 22 January 2015, the US increased its number of airstrikes near Mosul to a record number of 16. The airstrikes struck two large ISIL units, two ISIL tactical units, an ISIL building, an ISIL mortar team, and destroyed six ISIL culverts, two ISIL bridges, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL artillery system, 11 ISIL vehicles, an ISIL fighting position, six ISIL staging positions, two ISIL heavy weapons, an ISIL VBIED, and four ISIL armored vehicles. The Royal Canadian Air Force has also destroyed numerous ISIL targets around Mosul in support of ground forces.
On 23 January 2015, the heightened US airstrike campaign continued, with 8 airstrikes being carried out in and near Mosul. The airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units and a large ISIL unit, and destroyed seven ISIL vehicles, two ISIL VBIEDs, an ISIL bulldozer, four ISIL buildings, an ISIL artillery system, an ISIL heavy weapon system, two ISIL armored vehicles, an ISIL shipping container, and an ISIL bunker.
On 27 January 2015, ISIL launched a surprise attack on the oil-rich Kurdish city of Kirkuk, in an attempt to draw Kurdish Peshmerga fighters away from Mosul. However, Peshmerga forces managed to staunch the attack and regain some lost territory in the region, with the US ramping up their airstrikes near Kirkuk to 19 on 1 February 2015, in response to the ISIL advance.
On 4 February 2015, Jordan began launching airstrikes on ISIL positions in Iraq, in retaliation for ISIL's brutal killing of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh. The airstrikes killed 55 ISIL militants in Mosul, including a senior ISIL commander known as the "Prince of Nineveh."
On 6 February 2015, an RAF Tornado GR4 patrol worked closely with a coalition surveillance platform to provide air support for Peshmerga forces, who were engaged in close combat with ISIL terrorists near Mosul. When an ISIL mortar position opened fire on the Peshmerga, the Tornados responded with a Brimstone missile, scoring a direct hit.
On 9 February 2015, John Allen, the U.S. coordinator for the international coalition against ISIL, stated that the Iraqi Army, backed by Coalition airstrikes, will launch a ground offensive "in the weeks ahead" to regain the territory lost to ISIL, including the city of Mosul. On the same day, Coalition sources reported that the Peshmerga had recaptured additional territory near Mosul.
On 10 February, it was revealed that Peshmerga forces were only 6 to 9 miles away from the city center of Mosul, in the northwestern outskirts, and that they had managed to retake the Nineveh plains area (more specifically, the majority of the Tel Keppe District) to the northwest of Mosul. However, the Kurds stated that they were waiting for further orders to enter the outskirts of Mosul city.
Between 12 February and 21 June, at least 91 Coalition airstrikes took place near Mosul, striking 23 ISIL tactical units and destroying 31 ISIL fighting positions, 13 vehicles, 12 heavy machine guns, 12 excavators, 11 ISIL buildings, seven armored vehicles, nine staging areas, five rocket and four mortar firing positions, two bulldozers, two IED factories, a checkpoint and a trench system. The sorties included British RAF Tornado GR4 patrols which attacked ISIL defenses around Mosul with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs and Brimstone missiles.
The airstrikes killed or wounded dozens of ISIL militants. One round of Coalition strikes on 5 April, killed a total of 18 ISIL militants in Western Mosul, while from 25 to 26 March, US-led Coalition airstrikes were reported to have killed over 150 ISIL militants in Mosul.
Continuing ISIL–Kurdish clashes, planning, and delays
On 17 February, Iraqi Colonel Masoud Salih stated that the battle to liberate Mosul would probably take 30,000 soldiers, and at least 10 months. Also, he stated that another Iraqi official had estimated a minimum of 12,000 ISIL militants present in the city, dismissing rumors of 30,000 militants being present as "ISIS propaganda."
In late February 2015, it was revealed that around 25,000 well-trained Iraqi ground troops, trained by American forces, will be deployed to retake the city of Mosul. Additionally, it was revealed that the Iraqi Army should join the liberation effort by April or early May 2015, with the intention of avoiding having to fight during Iraq's summer heat around Ramadan. It was also reported by US General Lloyd Austin that small numbers of US troops could join the fray, if they are needed.
In early March 2015, it was reported that Turkey was planning to send ground troops to participate in the Liberation of Mosul, although a Turkish senior official stated that Turkey may limit its contributions to logistics. On 4 March, the Iraqi Defense Minister stated that Iraq could retake Mosul without help from foreign ground forces.
On 11 March, ISIL threatened on loudspeakers to behead any civilian who tries to leave Mosul. The announcement came one day after US planes dropped paper pamphlets into the city, warning of an imminent military confrontation, and advising all civilians to evacuate the city. Also, on the same day, the US-led Coalition carried out five airstrikes in and around Mosul, which struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL outpost, and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.
On 16 March, the Peshmerga bombed ISIL strongholds in the Forest area of central Mosul from Mount Baashiqa, killing and wounding dozens of ISIL fighters. Eight days later, Peshmerga forces clashed with ISIL forces in eastern Mosul, killing 13 ISIL militants.
On 3 May 2015, the Guardian reported that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was recovering from severe injuries he received from an 18 March 2015 airstrike, in a part of Mosul. In the meantime, Abu Alaa Afri had assumed control of ISIL as Deputy Leader. It was also reported that al-Baghdadi's spinal injury, which left him incapacitated, means that he may never be able to fully resume direct command of ISIL.
On 11 June, Iraqi General Najim al-Jubouri, the commander of the planned operation to retake Mosul, reported that Iraqi special forces were massing to the north of Baghdad and Baiji, in preparation for the coming battle. Units from the 15th and 16th Divisions of the Iraqi Army, federal police, and Golden Brigade were said to have been dispatched. General al-Jubouri also stated that the Iraqi forces deployed had been trained, and that they will be equipped with advanced weapons when the assault begins. He also said that the operation would be accompanied by an intense Coalition air campaign against ISIL positions in Mosul.
On 12 June 2015, Head of Ninawa Operations Command General Najim al-Jubouri stated that the planned offensive for Mosul had begun, with Iraqi forces, along with Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces fighters, being deployed to the city of Baiji, on the road to Mosul. US-led Coalition warplanes were also reported to be pounding ISIL positions in Mosul. However, it was noted that the only one who could officially declare the start of the battle was the Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, which he did not. In addition, two days earlier, The Daily Beast interviewed the general who said the date to begin the operation, "may be very close but I can't tell you when exactly". When pressed he said it would take place in less than a year and that more than 30,000 soldiers would take part, which some analysts found hard to believe since the Iraqi military was still decimated and rebuilding following the successful ISIL offensive of June 2014. The news agency described the general's plan to retake the city as "fantasy".
Another contributing factor to the delay of the offensive was the ISIL capture of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar province, in May 2015. As of late June, Iraqi General al-Jubouri said that forces were still being marshaled for an assault on Mosul, while city residents were becoming increasingly disappointed at the constant delays of the offensive.
On 15 June, US airstrikes in Mosul killed Ali Awni al-Harzi, a Tunisian ISIL operative who was a CIA person of interest, and had suspected links to the 2012 Benghazi attack. He was also said to operate closely with ISIL militants in North Africa and across the Middle East. He was the brother of Tariq bin al-Tahar bin al-Falih al-'Awni al-Harzi, who was killed in Syria the following day. On 23 June, Zaalan al-Afari, the finance minister of ISIL, was killed with four other ISIL militants by a booby-trap on the road while returning from the town of Gayara to Mosul.
On 13 September, U.S. envoy John Allen said that the battle led by the coalition against ISIL is a long-term battle, but that Mosul would be captured "within months". Iraqi forces also announced that they had now trained 20,000 soldiers to recapture Mosul.
On 14 September, ISIL reportedly killed 15 of its own handicapped, bedridden fighters. The fighters had lost their limbs from waist down while fighting Iraqi and Peshmerga forces and ISIL was said to have killed them due to "the inability" to provide them with the necessary care.
On 21 September, 90 US troops arrived at the base in Makhmur, southwest of Iraq's Kurdish capital Erbil, to train, advise and assist missions in preparation for the campaign on Mosul. It was furthermore speculated that they may take on an active role in the assault itself.
On December 17, 2015 ISIL mounted a major offensive against Kurdish positions but were repelled by the Peshmerga and included contact between Canadian special forces on the ground and ISIL.
On January 21, 2016, even after the Coalition airstrikes and battlefield losses from previous offensives, it was estimated that ISIL still had up to 10,000 fighters defending Mosul, which would require 24,000+ highly trained Iraqi soldiers to dislodge from the city. On January 23, 2016, it was reported that 400+ ISIL fighters had been killed in clashes with the Peshmerga and other local forces, during the past few days.
- Morris, Loveday (January 22, 2015), "Kurds say they have ejected Islamic State militants from large area in Northern Iraq", The Washington Post, retrieved January 25, 2015
- "Update: air strikes in Iraq". 17 February 2015.
- "Operation IMPACT – Air Task Force-Iraq airstrikes". Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Jordan carries out air strikes in Iraq, killing 55 IS militants". i24 News. i24 News. 4 February 2015. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Morocco Sends its F16s to Syria and Iraq to Fight ISIS". The Moroccan Times.
- "Military Skill and Terrorist Technique Fuel Success of ISIS". New York Times. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- "Isis weapons engineer killed in airstrikes in Iraq, claims US military".
- "Expert: seizing Mosul may take 10 months, 30,000 troops". Rudaw. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "Jordan carries out air strikes in Iraq, killing 55 IS militants". i24news. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- "Kurdish forces fire into Isis controlled Mosul", Al Arabiya, Jan 24, 2015.
- Barnes, Julian (22 January 2015). "U.S., Iraq Prepare Offensive to Retake Mosul From Islamic State". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
- Jethro Mullen and Nima Elbagir, CNN (30 December 2015). "After Ramadi, Iraq sets sights on ISIS in Mosul". CNN. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Defense chief: Mosul offensive to start in June with thousands o". Rudaw. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Blau, Max; Park, Madison; McLaughlin, Eliott C. (17 October 2016). "Battle for Mosul: Iraqi forces close in". CNN. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
- Per Liljas (December 25, 2014). "Iraqi Police: Coalition Airstrikes Kill ISIS Governor of Mosul". Time. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Iraqi army readies for assault on Mosul". Al Jazeera. 10 January 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- "Operation Inherent Resolve Strike Updates". United States Department of Defense. January 26, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
- Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider (1 February 2015). "Is U.S. coalition winning war vs. ISIS?". CNN. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Operation Inherent Resolve Strike Updates". United States Department of Defense. February 1, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- "Update: air strikes in Iraq". UK government. 17 February 2015.
- "Iraq to launch ground offensive against ISIS". Al Arabiya. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- Schwartz, Felicia (9 February 2015). "Kurdish Forces, Backed by Coalition Airstrikes, Move Toward Mosul". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- "Kurds are close to retaking Mosul", The Fiscal Times, Feb 10, 2015.
- "Update: air strikes in Iraq". 15 April 2015.
- "Update: air strikes in Iraq". 29 May 2015.
- "Update: air strikes in Iraq". UK government. 20 March 2015.
- Amre Sarhan. "Coalition strike kills dozens of ISIS militants in western Mosul". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news.
- Amre Sarhan. "Coalition strike kills 18 ISIS militants in western Mosul". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news.
- "Official: airstrikes kill 150 ISIS militants in Mosul". Rudaw.
- Greg Botelho and Barbara Starr, CNN (20 February 2015). "U.S. official: Plans in place for 25,000-strong Iraqi spring push to retake Mosul". Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Pentagon Laying Out New Plans to Battle Terror Groups In Iraq". Yahoo News. 20 February 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "Mosul's ISIS governor killed in targeted airstrike". Rudaw. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "Turkey may participate in ground operations against ISIS in Mosul". ARA News. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
- "DM: Iraq to Liberate ISIL-Seized Mosul without Foreign Help". Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- "ISIS threatens: any civilian leaves Mosul to be beheaded". ARA News. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
- Abdelhak Mamoun. "URGENT: Peshmerga bombs ISIS strongholds in Mosul". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news.
- Amre Sarhan. "Peshmerga forces kill 13 ISIS elements eastern Mosul". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news.
- Abdelhak Mamoun. "ISIS leader al-Baghdadi is incapacitated, says the Guardian". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news.
- "Iraq". Rudaw. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Operation to liberate Mosul from ISIS begins: military officer". Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Iraq: Operation to retake Mosul from Isis begins". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "An Iraqi General's 'Plan' To Retake Mosul Is A Fantasy". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Washington puts Mosul offensive on hold as Isis strategy shifts to Ramadi". Newsweek. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- Ammar Al Shamary and Gilgamesh Nabeel, Special for USA TODAY (21 June 2015). "Year after Mosul's fall to ISIL, Iraqis continue to wait for freedom". USA TODAY. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- Joscelyn, Thomas (23 June 2015). "Benghazi suspect killed in Mosul, Pentagon says". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- Martinez, Luis (2 July 2015). "Top ISIS leader killed by US drone strike in Syria". ABC News. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- "ISIS finance minister killed in Mosul ambush". Rudaw. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- Amre Sarhan (13 September 2015). "Liberation of Mosul will be within months, says U.S. envoy John Allen". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news by Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Isis 'Mercifully Kills' 15 of its Own Bedridden Fighters in Mosul". International Business Times, India Edition. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- News Desk (21 September 2015). "US Troops Arrive in Iraq for Mosul Operation". Al-Masdar News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Canadian forces strike back against ISIS offensive in northern Iraq". 18 December 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Pentagon: More troops needed to train Iraqis". WWLP.com. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Abdelhak Mamoun (23 January 2016). "400 ISIS fighters killed recently in outskirts of Mosul, says KDP". Iraq news, the latest Iraq news by Iraqi News. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "The Long Road to Mosul". War on the Rocks. Retrieved 24 March 2016.