The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), supported by U.S.-led Coalition, have continued to report advances north and south of Ramadi while simultaneously repelling ISIS’s attacks east of the city. ISIS employs a mobile defense and deploys SVBIEDs against the ISF south and east of the city. These attacks are aimed to reverse the ISF’s momentum. ISIS uses the same strategy of a mobile defense, which it tried in the east of Tikrit earlier this year.
While the Iraqi government and ISF remained focused on Anbar, attacks by ISIS on civilians continued in Diyala. Moreover, the tensions are currently running high in allareas recaptured from ISIS, where Sunni communities were divided in terms of whether they resisted or cooperated with ISIS. It indicates that the US-backed Iraq government’s attepmts to gain support of the Sunni groups in recaptured territories are far from a success.
Iranian-backed operations around Fallujah have continuing to advance there. However, If Shia militias redeploy to Diyala, where ISIS attacks persist amid deteriorating security, anti-ISIS operations around Fallujah may lose a momentum.
In the first days of August anti-ISIS forces started to conduct massive airstrikes on ISIS rear areas, lines of communication and fire positions around Ramadi and Fallujah. According to reports of Air Forces of Iraq they hit 5 bases of ISIS.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government, following initial tepid public criticism of Turkish airstrikes against the PKK, has denounced the airstrikes as a matter of principle but has simultaneously recognized Turkey’s role in facilitating anti-ISIS operations.
Turkey has been commencing airstrikes on the PKK in Iraq since July 24 following U.S.-Turkey talks and the opening of select Turkish airbases to U.S. forces in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
While the U.S. appears to support Turkish strikes against the PKK, the PKK’s relationship to the Kurdish YPG forces fighting ISIS in northern Syria raises the question of how Turkish interests is really sihronized with interests of diverse range of the anti-ISIS groups. Aside from the potential suppport to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Turkish strikes also ultimately express a message of regional disapproval of Kurdish autonomy. Moreover, if Turkish strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan distract ground forces from the anti-ISIS fight near Mosul and Kirkuk, it will undermine the anti-ISIS fight there.
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