Backed by Shi’ite militias, Iraqi ground troops have launched a new operation, called the “al-Jazira Security” operation, in the desert area west of Tikrit and Samarra, aiming to cut supply routes among ISIS territorial possessions in western Iraq.
The main focus of the offensive is to cut off ISIS’ largest city, Mosul, from its territory further south in Anbar Province, where they still control the vast majority of territory. The Iraqi government has vowed to recapture Mosul, which fell in summer of 2014, and expel ISIS from all of Iraq by year’s end.
Some military officials are expressing concern at the plan, however, saying the focus on offensives against more ISIS territory has kept them from properly consolidating gains they’ve already made, and spreading the troops too thin to defend other parts of the country.
Right now this operation appears focused strictly on the Tikrit and Samarra area, and preventing an easy route between Fallujah and Mosul, the two big cities ISIS has. There is still considerable territory further west that is out of Iraqi control, and ISIS also holds a land route between Anbar and Mosul through neighboring Syria.