US warplanes began pounding the area around Mosul overnight in the heaviest airstrikes yet of the current air war in Iraq. The targets were mostly ISIS forces that have been fighting with the Peshmerga over the past weeks.
That’s increasingly angering the Iraqi central government, which was on board for the US intervention in their ongoing war with ISIS, but now sees most of the strikes centered at supporting the Kurds, not the military.
Iraqi officials are pressing for the US to escalate southward and start hitting ISIS targets closer to Baghdad, hoping that will benefit the central government more directly than the Mosul strikes, far outside their sphere of influence.
That’s already in the works, as Anbar Province Governor Dulaimi confirmed on Thursday that he made a deal with the US to both launch airstrikes and establish a military presence on the ground in that province, the southwestern quarter of the country. Anbar covers a region from the Syrian border all the way to the outskirts of Baghdad.
The US has yet to announce the timing of the escalation into Anbar, but has laid out several comments indicating plans to keep growing the war into the foreseeable future, with Anbar just the next stop in a move toward a full-scale war.