ISIS launched waves of counteroffensives and spectacular attacks across Iraq after operations in eastern Mosul resumed on December 29. The attacks were widespread and hit highly secured areas, including Baghdad and the shrine cities of Najaf and Samarra. ISIS also attempted to sever the main highway running from Mosul to Baghdad by attacking locations north of Baiji.
The attack pattern is similar to ISIS’s attacks in the week after the Mosul operation launched on October 17, when ISIS struck targets in Kirkuk, Sinjar, Rutba, and Samarra, and in the week after the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) breached Mosul’s city limits on November 1, when ISIS launched major attacks in Tikrit, al-Alam, Samarra, and Shirqat.
The most recent attacks from December 29 to January 5 underscore that ISIS will react to major phase changes in Mosul by launching wide-spread attacks with the intent to spread the ISF thin, force it to reallocate units away from northern operations, and undermine political legitimacy in Baghdad.
The attacks demonstrate that, despite its losses in Mosul, ISIS is capable of reopening old fronts, such as in Sinjar which it lost in November 2015; penetrating deep behind the frontlines, such as Kirkuk City; and retaining access into highly secured areas, such as Baghdad and Samarra. Continued minor attacks in the Euphrates River Valley also suggest that ISIS may be reviving networks in historical support zones.
The ISF and Coalition can reasonably expect that ISIS will launch a similar wave of attacks across Iraq when the ISF reaches and crosses the Tigris River in Mosul.
The northern Raqqa offensive (codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates), is an ongoing military operation launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) in the Raqqa Governorate, with the goal of capturing the Islamic State’s capital city, Raqqa.
The offensive is concurrent with the Turkish anti-ISIL/ISIS Western al-Bab offensive (October–present), the Battle of al-Bab, the Iraqi Battle of Mosul in Iraq, and the Palmyra offensive launched by ISIL/ISIS. What most American’s don’t understand is part of the Syrian Civil War, the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), is an American-led intervention in Syria and we should not be there in the first place.
Source: ISW War Research