Baghdad, Erbil- Two years ago in the first week after ISIS captured Mosul on 10 June 2014, ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi showed up in Mosul Grand Mosque, wearing a Rolex watch, living the dream of the caliphate, which he did accomplish.
However, after forming the U.S.-led coalition that conducted wide-scale airstrikes since 22 September 2014 and restructuring the Iraqi Army to which joined tens of thousands of Shi’ite volunteers, ISIS started to lose control over a number of territories.
Security expert Hisham al-Hashemi explained the organizational, political and financial map of ISIS. Hashemi told Asharq al-Awsat: “A year ago, ISIS had its hands over 20% of Iraq. Now, ISIS controls 10% only and in case Mosul gets liberated, the group will lose the territories left.”
After losing control over Mosul, Hashemi expected that ISIS will take steps similar to those taken by Baghdadi (who was killed in 2010 by a U.S. airstrike) to transform the remaining followers into sleeper cells.
Up to 30,000 of Iraqi military, Kurdish Peshmerga and Popular Mobilization Forces, supported by Iran and local troops trained by Turkey, participated in the military operation to liberate Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq. They were supported by air and land support by the U.S. – led coalition.
Steven Townsend , commander of the international coalition forces, declared in a statement that “this operation will continue for weeks and maybe more.”
The Iraqi Army distributed flyers in Mosul on Sunday to warn residents that final preparations for the Mosul operation are in their last phase. The flyers assured residents that airstrikes and army units will not target civilians.