The influence of Iran and the militias it backs is expanding to western Iraq.
The Iraqi Security Forces and the Peshmerga on one side and ISIS on the other side are all setting conditions for a future operation that aims to dislodge ISIS from Mosul.
A joint force of Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army, and Popular Mobilization Units containing Iraqi Shi’a militias reportedly launched an operation to retake villages in the Mansuriyah sub-district, north of Muqdadiyah.
Peshmerga forces resumed their offensive posture in northern Iraq following a recent lull in anti-ISIS operations.
The attacks by ISIS on Peshmerga forces in the main area of Sinjar district, west of Mosul, highlight that the area remains contested between ISIS on one side and Peshmerga, Yazidi fighters, and most likely fighters from the Kurdish YPG on the other side.
ISIS has escalated its attacks on Baquba, the capital city of Diyala Province, at a time when Iraqi Shi’a militias and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are preparing to launch an assault to clear ISIS from the last area under its control in Diyala province.
The last three days have witnessed a prioritization of Anbari areas where the Iraqi Government has largely not committed resources since the fall of Mosul in June 2014. The district of Rutba fell to ISIS on June 25, 2014 and has been under uncontested control by the organization ever since.
ISW has updated its ISIS Sanctuary map! This map, covering both Iraq and Syria, shows the extent of ISIS zones of control, attack, and support throughout both countries.
Dhuluiya sub-district and its environs, as well as areas near Balad district were cleared of ISIS on December 29, 2014 following a wide-scale operation launched by various Iraqi Shi’a militias and the ISF.
The report of the allegedly foiled attack on Um Qasir port is noteworthy, although recent history suggests that such attacks are unlikely to effectively hinder the flow of goods or oil at the port.