ISIS reportedly withdrew its forces from Hit District, west of Ramadi, ISIS’s rst reported withdrawal from a major urban center in Iraq. Between March 8 and March 14, security forces west of Ramadi have made rapid progress in recapturing villages from ISIS and are reportedly less than seven miles from Hit District’s southern perimeter.
Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi’a militias spearheaded major operations to recapture desert terrain west of Samarra and Tikrit in Salah al-Din Province. The operation, announced and initiated by the Joint Operations Command on March 4, involves the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Popular Mobilization, and aims to secure the Jazeera desert area northwest of Baghdad and prevent its use by ISIS as a support zone.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched operations to retake Ramadi from ISIS on December 22 and established control of the city on February 9. The ISF will need to target remaining ISIS safe havens in the Euphrates River Valley, including Hit and Fallujah, in order to consolidate these gains.
ISIS conducted a large-scale campaign against civilian and military targets across Iraq between February 25 and February 29.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi made his boldest move against Iranian proxy militias yet.
Prime Minister Abadi is facing grave political challenges following his announcement of a cabinet reshuffle on February 9.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Chief, Vincent Stewart, noted that a Mosul operation was unlikely to occur in 2016, underscoring that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have far to go before being ready to recapture the city.
This third report in the series "U.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda" assesses the strengths and vulnerabilities of ISIS and al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra to serve as the basis for developing a robust and comprehensive strategy to destroy them.