Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Has the US Lost Control of Mosul?

Baghdad.

Gunmen raked a car with machine-gun fire in the northern city of Mosul yesterday, killing three foreigners and their driver. They then cut off the head of one of their victims.

The killings show that at the same time as the US was recapturing Fallujah in a heavily publicised assault it largely lost control of Mosul, Iraq’s northern capital. Though US troops launched a counter-attack, their grip on the city remains tenuous. The four men who died yesterday were travelling in a white sedan when it was attacked with automatic weapons and set on fire at a traffic intersection in Mosul.

One of the foreigners was briefly captured by the insurgents, according to an eyewitness. When he tried to escape they cut his head off and left his body in a pool of blood.

A photographer for Reuters news agency saw four bodies lying beside the burning car. Three of those who died appeared to be foreigners, one of whom looked Turkish and the other two European. The fourth body, possibly of the driver, was partly burnt, but appeared to be that of an Arab.

The men were carrying small automatic weapons, indicating that they may have been working for one of the private security companies in Iraq.

Mosul, a city on the Tigris river with a population of 1.2 million, is largely populated by Sunni Muslims but has a large Kurdish minority. It has increasingly fallen into the hands of Sunni insurgents over the past six weeks.

Insurgents launched an uprising on 10 November, two days after the US Marines started their attack on Fallujah, and stormed 10 police stations. Out of a local police force of 8,000, all but 1,000 have deserted and only 400 of those remaining are considered reliable.

Earlier in the year, the US occupation of Mosul by the 101st Airborne was presented as a model of what the occupation should have been in the rest of the country. Several thousand army officers publicly renounced Baathism. The local police force was being built up. The unpopular political parties of returned exiles in Baghdad were kept at bay.

Until the past few months, guerrilla attacks in Mosul were both less frequent and less effective than further south around Baghdad. This may have been because Mosul and Nineveh province, of which it is the centre, was never seen as a bastion of support for Saddam Hussein. But the city was always a nationalist centre and a recruiting ground for the officer corps of the Iraqi army. The defence minister under the old regime was usually from Mosul.

Unlike Fallujah, the guerrillas did not contest the recapture of Mosul by US and Iraqi forces in November. Leaflets were issued instructing fighters to hide their weapons and stay in the city. Since then 150 bodies have found, many of them members of the National Guard or other security forces. US forces in Iraq are being built up from 138,000 to 150,000 men and are already stretched trying to hold Sunni Muslim cities and towns around Baghdad. They were never able to surround Fallujah, even at the height of the battle last month, and many fighters escaped.

Much of the US Army in Iraq is tied down providing support services, guarding fixed positions or protecting convoys that are frequently attack. US patrols often seem to serve no particular purpose but severely disrupt traffic because Iraqi drivers do not want to get close to the American vehicles in case they are attacked.

In Fallujah, the mayor, Mahmoud Ibrahim, said the first families would start to return to the south of the city yesterday. But this may be in doubt because there is shelling is continuing in northern Fallujah.

There are more than 250,000 refugees who fled the city to seek shelter in Baghdad 35 miles away or the nearby city of Ramadi. Others are in camps on the city outskirts or in neighbouring villages. Fallujah has had no power or water since the US assault and these will take time to restore.

 

More articles by:

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail