Iraqi officials have launched a new round of offensives against ISIS, targeting sparsely guarded villages southeast of the major city of Mosul, and reportedly capturing several with the help of US airstrikes.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi said the offensive was “swift and decisive,” and bragged of ISIS being “in retreat” in the area. The Iraqi military touted the capture of the villages as a “heroic operation.”
Yet the villages weren’t exactly a high priority for ISIS to defend, and their focus appears to be split between defending Mosul itself and pressing an offensive against more valuable Iraqi territory around Kirkuk.
Indeed, in many ways the Iraqi offensive seems more reactive than proactive, aiming to take some of the pressure off the Makhmour area by clearing out the villages. Launching a real offensive against Mosul, however, is still months away under even optimum circumstances.