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Isis Used 17 Suicide Car Bombs to Help Leader al-Baghdadi Flee Mosul'
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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis and self-declared Caliph, escaped from the siege of Mosul two months ago when the road to the west was briefly re-opened by a fierce counter attack by Isis fighters, according to a senior Kurdish official.

“Isis used 17 suicide car bombs from Mosul and some of their units from Syria to clear the road leading out of Mosul for a few hours,” said Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdish President Masoud Barzani, in an interview with The Independent. He says that he and other Kurdish leaders believe that Isis would only carry out such an elaborate operation, in which they suffered heavy casualties, in order to bring al-Baghdadi to safety.

The escape took place after the fall of east Mosul and before the Iraqi security forces began their final attack on Isis-held west Mosul on 19 February. Mr Hussein says that Isis “brought 300 of their fighters from Syria and it was a very fierce fight.” The only possible escape route out of Mosul for Isis is to the west, through territory held by the Hashd al-Shaabi Shia militia who were forced to retreat, enabling Isis briefly to gain control of the road.

“I believe myself that they freed al-Baghdadi,” says Mr Hussein saying that the Isis unit from Syria returned there immediately and monitoring of Isis radio traffic showed that they were jubilant that they had carried out a successful operation. Al-Baghdadi, who became leader of Isis in 2010, is the movement’s iconic leader who led it to a series of spectacular victories including the seizure of Mosul in 2014. His death or capture would be a further body blow to the movement, which has lost much of its territory in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Hussein said that he expected Isis to survive after the fall of Mosul, where its fighters still hold the Old City which the UN says has a population of 400,000. “But I don’t think they will survive as a state,” he said. He expects Isis will revert to being a guerrilla-type organisation carrying out terror attacks but without its previous resources. Despite its current implosion, it still has sanctuaries in different parts of Iraq and Syria where it can try to regenerate itself.

A serious problem in Iraq is that there is no political plan for sharing power or running the regained territory after the fall of Mosul and the defeat of Isis. Mr Hussein said that Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is expected in Irbil on Tuesday to see the status of the anti-Isis campaign for himself. Mr Kushner arrived in Baghdad on Monday, accompanying the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, and saw the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

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When Mr Kushner does arrive in Irbil, he will find a situation which is bewilderingly complex even by the standards of Iraqi politics, and poses questions that may prove insoluble. When the offensive against Isis started on 17 October last year, it followed a military agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi central government whereby the Kurdish Peshmerga would play only a limited military role, taking part of the Nineveh Plain east of Mosul. But there was no political agreement on how long term security can be provided to the mosaic of different parties, militias, sects and ethnic communities living in and around Mosul.

Mr Hussein says that there was no political plan for post-Isis Mosul put forward last year, because it would have raised divisive issues that might have prevented a military campaign against Isis. It is unclear who will hold power in Mosul in the long term or what will happen to Kurds and Christians who were forced out of the city. A short drive across the Nineveh Plain reveals political and sectarian rivalries and hatreds stopping any return to normality. There is not much sign of the Iraqi army and most checkpoints are manned by the Hashd al-Shaabi, often recruited from the Kurdish speaking Shia minority known as the Shabak.

The Sunni Arab population of Mosul has been traumatised by the six month siege, which is far from ended and is destroying a large part of the city. Mr Hussein says that it was a serious mistake in the planning of the Mosul operation to believe that Isis would be defeated quickly or the population might rise up against the jihadis. “There was an idea in Baghdad that there would be an uprising against Isis,” says Mr Hussein. The optimistic conviction that this would happen, and over-confidence about how quickly Isis could be defeated, led to the government telling people in the city to stay in their houses, a miscalculation that is leading to heavy civilian loss of life.

Mr Hussein does not doubt that Isis will eventually be defeated in Mosul. But, unless there is an agreement about what to do next, he says the “logic of war” will take over and everybody will hold onto territory they have already taken. Driving around government-held east Mosul there is a noticeable lack of local police or any other security forces to replace elite military detachments. like the Counter-Terrorism Service, that have moved into west Mosul to fight Isis there.

In the plains around Mosul, insecurity is even greater with many towns and villages, recaptured from Isis last year, still deserted. The Christian town of Qaraqosh, for example, retaken from Isis at that time, remains empty and without electricity or fresh water. Yohanna Towaya, a local Christian leader, says the community “will not go back unless they are guaranteed protection by the KRG and the Baghdad government.” He says that “two or three Christian families are leaving KRG each day for Lebanon or Australia.” Everywhere there are predatory militias on the payroll of different masters staking their claim to power, money or land , something which exacerbates the deep distrust felt by all communities in northern Iraq towards each other.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Iraq, ISIS 
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  1. So there you have it:

    “There was an idea in Baghdad that there would be an uprising against Isis”

    Not just in Baghdad. The relentless legacy media framing has been that ISIS is holding all of these people hostage and everyone hates ISIS. That’s why it took a whole six days to conquer the region of two million people with 60,000 soldiers and policeman to defend it. Because they fought so hard to stop the 1500 ISIS fighters. That’s why it is going to take over seven months or more, it looks, to re-gain it with a force of over 100,000 soldiers along with US air power.

    It’s like the old joke I learned about the six day war. I’ll revise it for this situation. A ten thousand strong force of Iraqi soldiers is turned back with 7,000 casualties. The General in charge is being interviewed, and explains: “It was an ambush by ISIS. There were two of them.”

    Oh, and by the way:

    “Mr Hussein says that there was no political plan for post-Isis Mosul put forward last year, because it would have raised divisive issues that might have prevented a military campaign against Isis.”

    Perfect timing! Now that our pride prohibits backing out, we can be told that there was zero planning for the day after. You can’t be letting people know there’s no plan beyond being welcomed as liberators by an ecstatic population throwing flowers. Because you don’t get your war.

    So the story here isn’t that Al-Baghdadi escaped. It’s that ISIS is far more popular than we have been led to believe, and that there is no plan whatsoever for how ISIS territory is to be governed after destroying their cities to save them.

    It’s looking real good. For arms merchants.

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  2. Here we have it, courtesy of Dickburn: Big Al Bad Daddy escapes from besieged Mosul!

    BIG AL BAD DADDY!!!!

    But they ALMOST caught him!!!! AGAIN!!!

    For reference, check this from a few months again.

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    • Replies: @Fiendly Neighbourhood Terrorist
    I'm not convinced al Baghdadi even exists, and I am fairly well informed about ISIS.

    I am completely certain he was not "trapped" in Mosul, even if he exists or was even there when the offensive began back in October. If there is one thing we can be certain of, it's that al Baghdadi (or whoever he is, or the people pretending to be him are) is not a fool.
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  3. Svigor says:

    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis and self-declared Caliph, escaped from the siege of Mosul two months ago when the road to the west was briefly re-opened by a fierce counter attack by Isis fighters, according to a senior Kurdish official.

    What is it about non-Jihadist/terrorist Muslims that always seems to put them on the other side of this sort of thing? Now al-Ragheadi is walking on water. Makes you wonder if the Jihadists/terrorists shouldn’t win and then run the ME.

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  4. Mr Hussein says that there was no political plan for post-Isis Mosul put forward last year, because it would have raised divisive issues that might have prevented a military campaign against Isis.

    Either way, Mosul was going to be attacked – ISIS’s territorial ambitions (involving both conventional ops and mass casualty suicide attacks against civilians) against Shiite Arabs and Kurds (and every other regime in the region) meant it had to be crushed. The plan was to plow the Sunni Arabs under, which is why nothing explicit was advanced. Nobody wants to reward the Sunni Arabs for supporting Isis. Besides, Iraq doesn’t have the money for it.

    Uncle Sam spent a trillion dollars helping the Shiite Arabs and Kurds deal with the Sunni Arab menace, so he gave at the office. If they want to remain free of Sunni Arab dominance, it’s time for them to pay the price.

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  5. Boston says:

    I had questions just from reading the headline. Then, in the story, I find its all “Kurds say…”.

    Here’s the question I had. How in the world did Barghati get trapped in Mosul in the first place? This operation has moved with the speed of molasses. It was well announced, over-announced, in numerouse propaganda releases from the Iraqis and the Americans. For months and months an months we heard ‘soon we’ll attack Mosul’. Then the attack itself has proceeded with the pace of molasses.

    So, how in the world did the supposedly important ISIS leader get trapped in Mosul in the first place?

    That’s why this headline made no sense whatsoever. That’s why I read the story trying to find out what was going on. And what I find is just “Kurds say” And the sort of stupid, obvious propaganda-lie that says ‘well, they’d only have done this for someone important, so it must have been him.” BS. Maybe since I live in America, I’m becoming good at spotting fake news, but that’s an obvious and frequent tactic. Interview someone who says “well, it can only be this.”

    From what I can tell from half the world away, this is a not uncommone ISIS attack tactic. There seem to have been numerous reports of ISIS using multiple suicide bombers as an opening wave to their attack. Of course, the story doesn’t say that, as that would destroy the drama of the supposed (and unnamed, anonymous) Kurds who say “well, they’d only have done this for Barghati.”

    I’ve always like Mr. Cockburn’s reporting. But I less and less like nor trust the paper he writes for. And this is the second time in recent months that I’m left wondering whether or not a writer I like for the Independent is now writing what seems to be nonsense and whether or not they have editors telling them to write the nonsense?

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  6. Globo-US bitches about Syrian regime’s war crimes but has never condemned Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey’s support of Jihadi-Terrorists in Syria. If anything, the US has worked with those nations to subvert Syria.

    Also, the globo-US that accuses Assad’s regime of brutality and torture carried out tons of torture in the War on Terror(that only created more terrorists by destabilizing the Middle East and North Africa) and was responsible for stuff like Abu Gharib.

    Globo-US is a pile of shi*.

    US can only be a decent nation as a republic.

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  7. Also, the globo-US that accuses Assad’s regime of brutality and torture carried out tons of torture in the War on Terror(that only created more terrorists by destabilizing the Middle East and North Africa) and was responsible for stuff like Abu Gharib.

    You’d have to assume that the Middle East and North Africa were stable before the War on Terror. The fact is that terrorism has been part of the region for much of the modern era. The Algerian Civil War started a decade before the War on Terror, killing an estimated 100K people. Heck, 9/11 pre-dated the War on Terror. Saddam’s slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Shiites and Kurds pre-dated the War on Terror. The attack on the Grand Mosque in 1979 pre-dated the War on Terror. Heck, the Sunni Arab insurrection in Syria that ended in the Hama massacre in 1982, pre-dated the War on Terror. The reason for the War on Terror was to persuade Muslim rulers and terrorist leaders alike that sponsoring attacks on Uncle Sam is a really bad idea if they value their lives. Given that the number of American civilian dead from Muslim terror attacks before and after 9/11 is less than 1/10 of the number from 9/11, I’d say that message has gotten through.

    Meanwhile, Muslim terrorists are being killed by other Muslims at an accelerated rate, which is a positive thing. While it’s unlikely that enough warlike military-age Muslims will be killed to match the percentages of Germans and Japanese troops killed during WWII, the fact that they are being reduced in number is conducive to future peace in the region.

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  8. if isis become taliban like, it would be kinda impossible to fight it. how do you fight someone who looks just like another civilian when he drops off his ak 47?

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  9. @Jonathan Revusky
    Here we have it, courtesy of Dickburn: Big Al Bad Daddy escapes from besieged Mosul!

    BIG AL BAD DADDY!!!!

    But they ALMOST caught him!!!! AGAIN!!!

    For reference, check this from a few months again.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gT0ZyKxPFJQ&t=90s

    I’m not convinced al Baghdadi even exists, and I am fairly well informed about ISIS.

    I am completely certain he was not “trapped” in Mosul, even if he exists or was even there when the offensive began back in October. If there is one thing we can be certain of, it’s that al Baghdadi (or whoever he is, or the people pretending to be him are) is not a fool.

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  10. I am becoming more and more certain that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Caliph of ISIS, does not exist and has never existed. He is just a convenient fiction, always on the verge of being killed or captured, but escaping just in time.

    You can easily comprehend how useful such a bogeyman is.

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