Daesh fighters have successfully managed to retake territory from the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) after a brief yet “large and powerful” assault last night forced the ISF to withdraw entirely from villages under their control, Iraqi military sources have confirmed.
The clashes occurred just south of Shirqat, a district that was recaptured last month from Daesh by the ISF and with the support of the US-led coalition’s air power. The Iraqi government touted Daesh’s rout from Shirqat as a significant “stepping-stone” for the upcoming operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and Daesh’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq.
Iraqi military sources confirmed that Daesh managed to infiltrate their positions after advancing from the eastern bank of the Tigris River that flows by Shirqat and the Makhoul mountains where Daesh has a presence.
Daesh fighters then managed to surprise and assault ISF positions in a “rapid and aggressive manner.” The ISF was then forced to withdraw, allowing Daesh’s subsequent control over the village of Khanouga which lies just ten kilometres south of Shirqat.
As a precautionary measure against further Daesh attacks, ISF troops evacuated Khanouga and also imposed a curfew on the town of Shirqat in order to monitor potential threats. This was reportedly followed by Iraqi government airstrikes, but not that of the international coalition.
This is not the first time that Iraqi forces have been forced to flee after the US-led coalition focused its air power on a different sector.
Earlier today, 13 ISF soldiers were killed and a further 24 wounded after Daesh assaulted their positions in the western Iraqi Anbar Province. This could demonstrate that, without foreign air power, Iraqi forces would be incapable of fighting Daesh effectively.