They were the first force to reach the city limits of Mosul, and took some of the heaviest casualties throughout the fighting, often being asked to do the heavy lifting in the most dangerous areas while other Iraqi forces, unprepared for urban combat, stayed back and waited for easier openings.
Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Services (CTS), the elite, US-trained force, was heralded by Iraqi officials as the key to victory in Mosul, but a Pentagon report reveals they also sustained massive damage, losing roughly 40% of their manpower over the course of the nine months of fighting.
The news isn’t totally shocking, as there had been intermittent reports throughout the Mosul war of the fighters being stretched beyond their limits, exhausted and with flagging morale, even as Iraq’s political leadership bragged up the progress being made. Iraq, however, was careful not to release casualty numbers or reveal how many losses the CTS was really sustaining.
The Pentagon probably wouldn’t have revealed them either, except that they are seeking another $1.2 billion in funding to pay to train up more CTS fighters, both to increase the overall size of the force and to replace the many killed and injured along the way.