The End of ISIS?

By Mitchell Agredano

     Mosul is one of the largest industrial cities in Iraq and is vital to the transportation of items between Turkey and Syria. However, in 2014, after a majority of Iraqi security forces fled the city, ISIS unexpectedly seized the city of Mosul, making it a strategic stronghold for ISIS military operations. ISIS captured large amounts of military equipment and supplies that the Iraqi security forces left behind and stole about $500,000,000 from the Central Bank of Mosul which ISIS used to fund their military and terrorist operations.

     However, on October 16, 2016, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the beginning of the Mosul Offensive, where Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces joined together to recapture the city of Mosul. The Battle of Mosul is expected to last months and is estimated to have caused heavy casualties and create millions of refugees. ISIS has known about the assault on the city for months, giving them an opportunity to set up defenses resist Iraqi forces. ISIS has set up booby traps, tunnels for ambushes, snipers, and have even been using suicide vehicles with explosives. An aggressive push towards Mosul by the Kurdish and Iraqi forces, along with US airstrikes, makes an ISIS defeat in Mosul all but inevitable. U.S. military officials estimate a total of 98,000 soldiers fighting ISIS, severely outnumbering the estimated 5,000 ISIS fighters thought to be in Mosul.

     The offensive to reclaim Mosul has had a damaging impact on the villages surrounding the city, making them nearly unlivable. The United Nations estimates that 50,000 Iraqi refugees may enter northeastern Syria, though a path that has not been cleared of landmines. A man fleeing his village told CNN, “We can’t live there — there’s no water, electricity, damage everywhere and explosives.”

     Why is Mosul so important? The city of Mosul is ISIS’ last strategic stronghold in Iraq which they have used to dominate the larger northwestern area of Iraq for the past two years. Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister Hoshyar Zebari claims to have intelligence that ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, is trapped in the city of Mosul and has called in an elite battalion of ISIS fighters to help protect the city. ISIS has caused destruction across the Middle-East and is responsible for terrorist attacks around the entire world. The terrorist group is responsible for the Paris shootings in France in November, 2015, resulting in at least 130 killed; and the Brussel airport bomb attacks in Belgium, killing 32 people. The group is also responsible for numerous bomb attacks in the Middle-East; such as a car bomb in Baghdad, killing 93 people; two suicide bomb attacks, killing 70 people; a suicide attack at a football game, killing 32 people; and many more If the Islamic state were to be defeated in Mosul, it would limit the group’s military operations in Syria which would be a devastating blow to the group’s power in the region. The Mosul Offensive could mark the beginning of the end for ISIS. T