Heavily armed and trained by the US, Iraqi troops were upbeat when they started the invasion of Mosul, and the quick advances with little resistance in the surrounding countryside only bolstered their confidence. The realities of the fight are starting to sink in, however.
A colonel in Iraq’s Ninth Armored Division describes his “elite” forces quickly stalling once they got into the area around the city itself, finding their columns of tanks useless in the environment, and woefully unprepared for urban warfare.
This has been a recurring problem for the Iraqi military, which can advance as well as any other when there is no real resistance. When facing unconventional tactics like snipers and suicide bombers, however, they struggle mightily.
The offensive into Mosul was going just as well, until the resistance started in earnest. Indeed, some Iraqi troops even managed to get inside the city limits. Now, even keeping those troops there is proving a huge challenge, with ISIS attacking this small presence at all hours.
With not a moment’s rest, and with reinforcements struggling to even get to the city, the morale of the Iraqi troops in Mosul is falling fast. Armored brigades that were supposed to be driving tanks right into Mosul are instead on foot, and in serious trouble.
Though the Iraqi government’s desperate desire to show continued progress is likely to preclude any ordered pullbacks, it is hard to see how long these forces can sustain this foothold in Mosul in the face of such stiff opposition.
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