(GPA) Mosul – With Syria making headlines at nearly every news outlet for at least the past month, it is easy to forget that across the border in Iraq a devastating battle to retake Mosul– backed by the United States– wages on.
Yesterday, the United States military announced that they plan to immediately double the number of US advisers working on the front-line as the Iraqi government pushes to retake Mosul from IS control. About 70% of the city has been liberated at this point. Washington says this puts the number of US troops at about 450, but Iraqi sources claim about 5,000 US soldiers are stationed around the city.
As expected, casualties are high. Just last week, the United States took responsibility for an airstrike that missed its intended target and instead hit a hospital campus. Which the Pentagon says may or may not have resulted in civilian casualties.
The most recent report on casualties was released over a month ago and estimated 2,000 died in the month of November alone. However, this number only represents casualties from fighting on the front lines. As IS loses ground, we see more terrorist attacks across the country in the form of car bombs and sniper fire targeting civilians. That brings the number to almost 3,000 across the country– including at least 926 civilians– in just one month. For the year 2016, almost 20,000 have been either injured or killed.
Last week, Iraqi forces started their second phase to liberate Mosul. They were forced to take a two week break due to IS using civilians as human shields and hundreds of suicide bomb attacks against advancing troops.
Complete liberation of Mosul could spell the beginning of the end for IS. (That is, as long as resistance forces are prepared to stop IS from fleeing back into Syria.) They’re losing ground in Syria, Iraq, and Libya. Their oil infrastructure is being bombed. Their supply routes are being bombed. But more than anything else: IS is running out of money and regional war is expensive. Militants in Mosul haven’t been paid their usual $350 per month. As a result, IS fighters in Mosul have started to make money by smuggling civilian families out of the city for meager sums.
So while the west spews headlines about violence in Syria– which completely ignores the war crimes of Washington and their allies– we cannot forget the devastation taking place just across the border in Iraq. Devastation for which the United States and their allies are directly to blame.