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Peshmerga Forces Launch Large-Scale Offensive Against ISIS From Multiple Positions South East And South West of Mosul Dam

WED, 21 JAN 2015 22:23 | KRG Cabinet

At 0700hrs on 21 January 2015, Peshmerga forces launched a wide-ranging offensive to reclaim a large area South of the Mosul Dam from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) control. Up to 5,000 Peshmerga participated in the offensive, including around 1000 volunteers, and were supported by International Coalition (IC) air strikes.

Peshmerga forces attacked ISIS positions from multiple locations South-West and South-East of the Mosul Dam. As of 2000hrs Peshmerga forces had successfully retaken 480 square kilometres from ISIS control, in a stretch of land measuring 40km wide by 12km deep.

Peshmerga forces reclaimed the strategically important Badush Heights, located immediately above Mosul’s main northern supply route, running between Tel ‘Afar and Mosul, significantly degrading ISIS’ capability to supply Mosul from the North, East and West.

In addition, Peshmerga forces expelled ISIS from the Wanah Peninsula, forcing ISIS to retreat South across the Tigris towards Mosul and towards Tel ‘Afar. In doing so, the Peshmerga have added strategic depth to their ability to defend Mosul Dam, a historic ISIS target which accounts for most of Northern Iraq’s energy requirements.

ISIS suffered heavy casualties: the Peshmerga buried the bodies of over 200 ISIS fighters abandoned in the field by fleeing ISIS forces. Among them were a number of foreign fighters who appeared to be of East Asian and Chechen origin. Most of them were killed in fighting in and around the abandoned villages of Shahia, Ammar Bet, Karaj, Wanah, Tel Zahab, Kehrich, Mushrif Bet, Hozaima, Tel Khdr, Jemrood, Aski Mosul and Tel Rim.

The Peshmerga continue to clear the abandoned areas, which were heavily mined by ISIS using improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Chancellor Masrour Barzani explained in a press conference: “We will allow locals to return only after the area has been cleared for their own safety”.

ISIS deployed 14 VBIEDs in a failed effort to halt the Peshmerga advance. All 14 attacks were repelled, with 11 destroyed by the Peshmerga and 3 by IC air strikes. One of the VBIEDs exploded close to the Peshmerga forces, wounding 4. A survivor described the incident: “The VBIED came from behind a corner. By the time we could respond, the VBIED was so close. We were lucky to have been in an APC.”

Fighting has continued into the evening, with Peshmerga forces continuing to put pressure on ISIS, pushing them back towards Mosul. Chancellor Barzani emphasised that the purpose of the offensive was to disrupt ISIS, not to punish the population of Mosul, who were already being terrorised by ISIS: “The Peshmerga do not target civilians”, stressing that there have been no civilian casualties caused by either the Peshmerga or IC air strikes.

Chancellor Barzani sent a clear message of support to the people of Mosul, encouraging them to be proactive in opposing ISIS: “Do not join, do not support, do not listen to ISIS; tell your children not to join ISIS. ISIS is an evil force that does no good for any community, any religion, any society”.

The Chancellor said that the Peshmerga would continue to put pressure on ISIS, increasing their isolation in Mosul: “ISIS will feel the heat”.

You can find still images and video content from the offensive in the following Dropbox:

Office of The Chancellor
Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC)