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Prof Anthony King, Warwick's Chair of War comments on the ongoing battle for Mosul

Professor Anthony King, Warwick's Chair of War in the Politics and International Studies Department comments on the ongoing battle for Mosul,

"Mogadishu, Sarajevo, Chechnya, Ramadi, Fallujah, Aleppo and now Mosul. These names nowform a now notorious litany of urban battles which are punctuated the last two decades and more. The coming battle of Mosul is likely to share many of the characteristics of the previous fights. ISIS fighters in the city will exploit the complexity of the urban terrain to offset its technological disadvantages.

The battle is likely to be long and hard-fought: ISIS have recurrently proved themselves killing to fight to the death and Mosul is their last bastion. Some of their tactics are likely to be quite convenentional. They are likely to form themselves into detachments dedicated to the defence of particular buildings and areas, protected by IEDs, tank-ditches, obstacles, barricades and barbed-wired; many of these defences have already been reported. In addition, following the Chechen example, smaller commando units using the concealment of buildings and underground passages are likely to mount raids against lines of communication and headquarters in the rear of the Coalition forces.

Conventional defence will be supported by unconventional methods, especially the use of individual and vehicle-borne suicide bombers. In Fallujah, Al Qaeda turned entire buildings into IEDs, which were intended to detonate once American troops were inside; human shields may be used as well. At the same time, ISIS is likely to mount terrorist strikes in the form of bombings and assassinations in Baghdad and other government held areas; strikes against the west would also seem to be likely.

Finally, ISIS will mount a strong information campaign as the battle intensifies. They will seek to show the collateral damage being inflicted on the civilian population inside Mosul with a view to de-legitimizing the western and above all American partners of the Iraqi government. It is likely they will try to equate Mosul and Aleppo. There is little doubt that ISIS will be defeated in Mosul – the Iraqi regime and the west must retake the town if ISIS is to be removed and a new political settlement achieved; but it will take weeks not days and will involved intense and bloody fighting. Even then, the political outcome is unclear."

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