Casino, Stalingrad, Aleppo – Mosul?


Let's see– –

54,000 Iraqi government forces,

40,000 odd Pesh Merga,

Various US Army and USMC artillery units firing in support,

Coalition air pounding the bejayzus out of the environs and approaches to the city.

3 to 8 thousand IS madmen in the city.

A million or so civilian inhabitants give or take 100k. 

IMO this is going to be a near run and protracted thing.

The ISF clearly like to win battles without fighting. 

IMO IS's most likely CoA (course of action) is to seek to make a prolonged and suicidal defense of the city taking advantage of the ISF's great sensitivity to its own casualties. A thousand man stay behind force, indifferent to their casualties, fighting from ruined buildings and also indifferent to civilian losses can make a prolonged and expensive fight.

It is sadly amusing to see how favorably the Borgist media gaze benignly at the approaching spectacle while howling in rage at the impending defeat of their jihadi friends at Aleppo.  pl

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56 Responses to Casino, Stalingrad, Aleppo – Mosul?

  1. Ghostship says:

    Yeah, but the f**king Guardian is blogging it live for real – they obviously think it’ll be over in hours
    BTW, if ISIS do make a run for it after doing a deal with the US/Saudis, I reckon the Iraqis will do to this ISIS convoy what they did to the ISIS convoy departing Fallujah earlier this year – blow them up. The convoy the US-led Coalition didn’t want to touch because it might have contained “civilians”. Perhaps that also explains why the Iraqi militias have been tasked with driving up west of Mosul towards Tal Afar – they’re the most politically reliable forces for blocking purposes around.

  2. Bill Herschel says:

    It is inconceivable that this will not be over in a matter of days. There is only one goal sought by the United States and its allies: the elimination of Vladimir Putin. Mosul has to be a pure victory. It has to be the antimatter to Aleppo. Now. Before the election. America is Great.

  3. FourthAndLong says:

    This in Fin Times raises spectre of chemical warfare by IS:
    And says Turkey wants in on the act. Bit problematic given central role of Kurdish forces. What a rat’s nest. Repercussions manifold and unknown, but potentially very serious, in a nutshell. Apologies if it’s behind a pay wall.
    In reference to Morning Joe, I must confess to nearly feeling some sympathy for him. The million dollar b-day gift to BC, and Dartmouth – boy’s sad squirming & attempted spin? MJoe nailed him. You couldn’t be human and not feel revulsion for the Clintons. Clearly even the Borg recognize this.
    FT today also reports on attempted quid pro quos between DOS & FBI over reclassifying an HRC e-mail. To knock one down to unclassified they proposed to grant several xtra overseas FBI positions, so the allegations go.

  4. turcopolier says:

    it is a favorite State Department trick to offer to let you have more people in overseas missions in return for something they want. and when you agree they often renege on the deal having pocketed what they wanted from you. They did that to me over attaché positions in several countries. so, I stopped making deals with them. pl

  5. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    “It is inconceivable that this will not be over in a matter of days.” Of course, Clinton will ordain it. pl

  6. The Beaver says:

    I would like to see those journos in the centre of Mosul. So far only villages around Mosul are being attacked but it ain’t going to be that pretty to look at when they move towards the centre.

  7. Laguerre says:

    I have a sense the Guardian’s live-blogging of the advance was a mistake. Little progress was made all day, only the Pentagon said the advance was ahead of schedule. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Maybe it’ll go better tomorrow, but it’s not something where you would want a minute-by-minute account. It’s doesn’t look good if things don’t go as planned.

  8. Anna says:

    Lets’ look at the root of all evil:
    WikiLeaks: “a State Department cable sent under her [Clinton] name in December 2009 states that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan].” …. Goldberg reported that “a widely held sentiment inside the White House is that many of the most prominent foreign-policy think tanks in Washington are doing the bidding of their Arab and pro-Israel funders.”

  9. AJones says:

    You’re joking, right? When the U.S. went into Fallujah the city was damn near vacated when the operation commenced. There were 3600 jihadis (lower than the estimate in current situation in Mosul). The operation involved, 82nd Airborne, 101st Airborne, 1st Special Forces, 10th Mountain, 1st Marine Expeditionary, 3rd Amored, 1st Infantry Division, SEAL teams, Blackwater Mercs, et al. It took 3 weeks to pacify and that didn’t hold. Then there was Second Battle of Fallujah. This time over 10k U.S. military and it took a month and a half to pacify. Over 120 U.S. killed and over 700 wounded. Jihadis killed was approx. 1400. And Fallujah was reduced to rubble. AC-130s, F-16 dropping 2000 lb bomb, AC/DC and Metallica blasted into the vacated city 24/7 prior to the U.S. military operation.

  10. ked says:

    Isn’t a force ratio of 10:1 good enough to reduce a defender in urban terrain? (as a rough guideline, not in every specific case… “ymmv”)

  11. turcopolier says:

    numbers don’t count if people don’t fight. pl

  12. Chris Chuba says:

    Pre-debate operation
    It just dawned on me. The Democrats don’t actually need Mosul to be taken before the election, all that matters is that the operation started BEFORE the last debate so that HRC can tut, tut, and inform Trump that smart power works.
    Hillary made a big issue that we can’t possibly be on the same side as Iran in Syria but we are on the same side as Iran in Iraq. That is quite the irony. I hope Trump points that out but he probably won’t. I bet she wouldn’t be able to handle that well. HRC cannot handle anything that is not scripted.
    No surround and siege
    The Mosul operation is different from the previous operations in Ramadi and Fallujah. In those cities the Iraqis first surrounded them, tried to coax the civilians away, wear ISIS down and prevent their escape. This time around they do not have the city surrounded. So either they are rushing the offensive because of pressure by the U.S. or they have concluded that there is little value in their previous tactics. It is probably a little of both. ISIS is not famous for letting civilians leave and whatever force they leave tends to fight to the death or manages to slip away anyway.
    In any case, the Russians could make the same argument at Mosul that we are making at Aleppo. ‘What, you are bombing a city of 1M people just to destroy 3,000 militants? Oh what barbarians you are!’ Yes indeed, we are hypocrites.

  13. Henshaw says:

    And that straightforward fact will be twisted to prove again how beastly those Syrian Army chaps are. When some commentators are unkind enough to contrast the performance of Syrian and Iraqi forces, I expect official responses along the lines of ‘Look, the only reason those nasty Syrians are able to advance against IS in urban fighting is because the Syrians are so uncaring about civilians.’

  14. Booby says:

    If ISIS leaves a force determined to fight to the death in a defense in depth tunnel maze, the cake walk to Mosel will change to a grind & slog when the attackers reach the fields of fire of the defenders. Air & arty reducing the city to rubble will add complexity to the street fighting. It’s been 30 years since I seriously studied Stalingrad. If my memory serves me correctly, 1 Soviet squad in rubble at a critical intersection punished & stopped a Panzer division. In the battle of Okinawa, the Japanese had created tunnel complexes in 3 lines. The Japanese allowed the landing to go unopposed. The initial advances were cake walks. But the close combat through the carefully planned killing ground in front of Hacksaw Ridge & the Shuri Line were slow & brutal close combat. Casualties for the Battle of Okinawa were higher than Iwo Jima or Normandy.
    A determined enemy in well prepared positions with good field of fire in urban or rugged terrain is a bitch. The old assault squad approach of “blind them, blast them, burn them” is not a task for men who hope to grow old.

  15. Grimgrin says:

    Putin already commented on it:
    “We hope that our American partners, and in this case our French partners as well, will act selectively and do everything to minimise — and even better, to rule out — civilian casualties,” Mr Putin told a news conference after a summit of developing economies in India on Sunday.
    “We of course are not going to fan hysteria over this matter, like our partners in the West do, because we understand that we need to fight terrorism, and that there is no other way apart from active fighting,” he added.
    Say what you like about Vova Vladimirovich, the man has a sense of humour.

  16. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST;
    From where I stand, neither the shenanigans designed to cover the malfeasance of the female clinton, nor her election, will change facts on the ground in Syria or Iraq.
    Thucydides, in his Melian Dialogue, described real politik nicely: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Putin has proven himself an equal in power to the Borg, and MUST be accorded his rights-much to the latter’s chagrin. The Arabs, on the other hand, are weak-and suffer they must. We will see which ME country will be the next to suffer. Perhaps Turkey; she has spent the accumulated strength of the secular progressives and is in the same political excrement pile termed “political Islam”.
    Per TTG’s sergeant, the shit seems to be on.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  17. Roland says:

    Will the advancing season place a significant impediment on air or ground operations in Aleppo or Mosul? Is there pressure on the attackers to win before winter?
    I looked at the climographs for the two cities. It looks like there is more cloud cover/precipitation during the Dec-Feb period. But Col. Lang, or some people visiting this blog, may well be personally familiar with the climate and terrain of either or both regions.
    Would anyone be able to elaborate? Apologies if this is a stupid question, or already well reviewed.

  18. elaine says:

    Hopefully there will also be some form of resistance/uprising from the civilians in Mosul when the fire works start.

  19. mike allen says:

    The 2nd volume of Rick Atkinsons trilogy has a well documented section on the horrific Battle of Monte Cassino. He says the airstrike on the Abbey, codenamed Operation Avenger, killed 400 civilian refugees and monks. The airstikes on the town itself, codenamed Operation Ludlum, may have killed and wounded more allies and civilians than Germans.
    After Ludlum, “Eaker publicy announced ‘Today we fumigated Cassino…’ “. (Eaker was LtGen Ira Eaker, Commander of the Allied Air Forces in Italy whose aircraft made the strike, and previously Commander of the Eighth AF in England. He was portrayed by the Gregory Peck movie 12 O’Clock High)
    Eaker should have known better. Only one in ten bombs reportedly struck inside the thousand-yard radius of the target. The Italian town of Venafro, 11 miles away from the target, was bombed for over an hour. General Juin’s HQ of the French Expeditionary Corps was bombed. Bombs also hit the British 8th Army command post, prompting its commander to say “Ah, I see our American friends have called”, but he was only half right as the strike was by both British and American aircraft. Other bombs fell on the 4th Indian Division, the 3rd Algerian Division, a Morroccan military hospital, and a Poish bivouac.
    I hope the Mosul operation goes better considering the coordination nightmare of the Iraqi Army, Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militias (with embedded IRGC advisors), Sunni and Christian militias, the multi-national Coalition AF, and the Iraqi AF. Plus the constant Damocles sword hanging over Mosul of the Turkish forces in Bashiqa interfering.

  20. mike allen says:

    Probably already started:
    Unknown persons burned 3 ISIS HQs in Mosul last night. And there have been clashes in Mosul between residents and ISIL at Bab al-Jadid and Hammam al-Aliil today. 2 cars burned.
    Probably a majority of the residents will hunker down or try to flee. A minority may support ISIL. But there are some tribes in residence or in the surrounding villages that have had a blood feud going with ISIL’s Hisba religious police and Sharia courts for some time now.
    There are also reports of clashes between different ISIL factions in Mosul.

  21. Bill H says:

    CBS News is even more entertaining than usual. Russia and Syria are bombing civilians and hospitals in Aleppo, while the US is bombing ISIS in Mosul. Very cool to see Holly Williams in full battle regalia, body armor and chinstrapped helmet, while everyone around her is strolling around hatless. The crowning moment is when she panicked and went to her hands and knees while the guy standing upright behind her with nothing on his head is laughing at her and motioning for the cameraman to stand up. I could not believe they aired that clip.

  22. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    Have you read von Senger’s memoir, “Neither Fear nor Hope?” pl

  23. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    No. I should. Atkinson mentions Senger’s refusal to use the Abbey as an OP.

  24. mike allen says:

    should have read: …Polish bivouac…

  25. Pundita says:

    Priceless. Almost makes me feel sorry I stopped watching television (in 2013; it was giving me diarrhea)

  26. Pundita says:

    IS haven’t started their suicide attacks on the invaders yet. I think they’ll try to make the ISF coalition reduce the city to rubble.
    By the way, I haven’t looked through the comments in the last few days so I don’t know whether anyone has discussed the distinct possibility that there never were any missiles fired at the USS Mason. The Navy thinks what is looking more and more like phantom missiles might be a glitch in the ship’s radar system.
    For some reason I can’t fathom the Navy’s rumination didn’t make news headlines. But it would’ve been nice if they’d first checked the radar, eh? Given it was preposterous that the Houthis would fire on a US vessel.

  27. b says:

    The U.S. wants ISIS to move to Syria. Deir Ezzor and Raqqa will be centers of the new “Salafist principality” there. The ISIS pull out from Dabiq to hand it over to Turkish proxies was well coordinated. Will we see the same level of coordination in Mosul?

  28. Ghostship says:

    Did the United States Borg miss an opportunity to kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or perhaps it has no interest in killing him until there’s regime change in Damascus and Moscow?
    The links below are to an Iranian news agency.
    Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Flees to Raqqa, Wife Arrested
    According to Iraq’s Sumeriya News, local sources in Nineveh quoted defected ISIL leaders as saying that al-Baghdadi has managed to escape from Mosul to Raqqa, but his wife has been arrested.
    It seems the US is letting ISIS quit Mosul if this report is to be believed, so Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could have been among those who were allowed to leave.
    US-Led Warplanes Ignore ISIL’s Military Convoys Fleeing Mosul to Syria
    Iraq’s volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) complained that the warplanes of the US-led coalition are allowing ISIL military convoys flee Mosul in Iraq’s Nineveh province to Syria without being harmed.

  29. The Beaver says:

    @ Bill H
    Re: Holly Williams
    That was funny – I couldn’t stop laughing (during the day I have seen various videos from different sources about the bombing of villages around Mosul and never saw any journos dressed like her).
    All the foreign journos are with the Kurdish Peshmerga or at the command centre.

  30. The Beaver says:

    This is interesting:
    yesterday in Erbil
    Wonder how many are on the take and from whom ?

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Per the Makkinejad Thesis (Seljuk Transcendence) one cannot expect the Arab countries to be able to resolve their own internal problems any time soon.
    Let’s face it, the Arabs initiated the war against Israel in 1948, another Arab country, Jordan, lost Al Haram Al Sharif to Israelis and in that manner locked the world of Islam in an interminable religious war with Zionist Judaism and Christian Protestantism, and at the first opportunity waged a long and bitter war against the core state of their own civilization – Iran.
    Arabs chose to be weak by spending their energies on war and intrigue and mischief. As though they still lived in the 12-th century.

  32. Pat,
    I haven’t read it, but I can surely relate to the title and imagine the state of mind of IS lunatics inside the city. Parts of the leadership probably has already left the city, but there are still a few thousand men inside, with no hope of escape and a mindset where suicide on the battlefield is the highest achievement. Kinda sets the tone for something like an urban Okinawa in the middle of the desert.
    Anybody who thought this would be a walk in the woods should get their heads examined. This is gonna be long, bloody and messy … Fully expect the Kremlin to express its deepest concerns about the disregard for civilian life and the “many civilian casualties caused by indiscrimate Coalition bombings”, or something along those lines. Maybe they’ll call for an international investigation for war crimes as well ? wouldn’t surprize me.
    The other upside for R+6 is that Aleppo is not the main show in town anymore, with all eyes turned towards Mosul. I guess ppl are going to be less vocal about Russian airstrikes anyway, now that the shit has hit the fan further East. To be continued, no doubt !

  33. turcopolier says:

    Patrick Bahzad
    Yes. As we discussed I look forward to you taking over the Mosul dossier. pl

  34. turcopolier says:

    Coordination between Erdogan and IS is to be expected. they are natural allies and he supported them for years. IMO the departure of IS from the path of the Turkish Army means that IS’s LOC through Turkey will remain open. I don’t see that this has anything to do with the US. As for IS being allowed by USAF to flee Mosul, why would the US not want them to flee? The object of the Mosul operation is to return the city to Iraqi government control, not to destroy it by fighting for it street by street and bombing it into rubble. IS re-positioned into Raqqa and Deir al-zor makes them more vulnerable from the US POV. pl

  35. turcopolier says:

    mike allen
    von Senger was a tertiary of the Order of St. Benedict. pl

  36. Fred says:

    “… and in that manner locked the world of Islam in an interminable religious war” That’s a rather selective re-writing of history. You left out Egypt’s actions or that it was 1967 not ’48 and the interminable religious war started with the Muslim conquests centuries earlier. Or was that all just “religion of peace” proselytization?

  37. mike allen says:

    Colonel –
    I checked Atkinson’s source notes. He does quote from von Senger’s memoir that you mentioned.
    Regarding the gamesmanship going on about the US reportedly allowing Daesh to flee to Syria: Assad did the same in Syria with isolated jihadi held cities and towns. He was praised for it for being a good strategic move and for humanitarian reasons.
    About Mosul escape routes StratFor says “In previous battles to seize key urban areas from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, advancing forces have made a deliberate choice to leave an escape route open. The reasoning behind this is that fighting the Islamic State in the open is far preferable to fighting the group in the confines of a city. Not only is urban fighting more difficult, but it is also destructive, something the coalition would rather avoid as much as possible in Mosul, given its large population and historical importance.”
    Also it has been said here and elsewhere that Hashd al Shabi militias, who will not be used in Mosul itself, are the ones that will be used to interdict Daesh fleeing towards Syria. Those Shia militias are Iranian advised and there are also reports of Iranian volunteers among them.

  38. Booby says:

    For Patrick Bahzad,
    Our policies concerning civilian casualties have changed dramatically in the 70 years since WW-II. In the Battle of Okinawa approximately 3 civilian were killed for each Japanese soldier. Most civilians were women & children since the Okinawan military aged men were in the Army & stationed in Taiwan. The Japanese did not trust the local men to defend Okinawa.
    Many of our WW-II air raid targeted civilians. The fire bomb attacks of Dresden & Tokyo & both nuclear attacks are examples.
    If Mosel turns into a no quarter fight requiring heavy use of air & arty, I assume we’ll keep our white hats on, wash our hands & blame the Shia militias.

  39. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have told you and Tyler repeatedly; Islam is not a religion of Peace; it is a religion for both War and Peace.
    I have made my observations, you make yours.

  40. Tigermoth says:

    An interview with the Syrian 1st Lady. A very courageous and compassionate woman.
    Syria’s First Lady, Mrs Asma al-Assad delivers her first public interview with foreign media in 8 years.

  41. optimax says:

    Many of those civilians committed suicide and infanticide convinced by the Japanese soldiers the Americans were blood thirsty monsters.

  42. Henshaw says:

    MasdarNews claims that the Russians are already moving to put themselves in a better position to respond to any IS influx from Mosul-

  43. Warpig says:

    B. Makkinejad,
    You’ve referenced your Makkinejad Theory in the past, with comments on the Seljuks and the Diocletian Line. I’m intrigued, but haven’t been able to find where you’ve laid it all out together. Would you kindly point me to where you’ve written about this, or provide a brief comment here?.
    Thanks in advance.

  44. b says:

    “why would the US not want them to flee?”
    Because ISIS is the declared enemy?
    Let them escape like in Fallujah where the Iraqi airforce had to intervene to take out the fleeing convoy?
    Why not let them out and block their path? Why leave the west open for them to go to Syria if not to then destroy Syria. This makes no sense.
    Why bomb the SAA in Deir Ezzor if not to help ISIS to take the city? The plans for the “Salafist principality” are known since 2012. I see no sign that they have changed.

  45. turcopolier says:

    You let them out because they are easier to kill when they are running. You know, like the Falaise pocket. pl

  46. elaine says:

    Colonel, Sure I understand letting them out because it’s easier to kill
    them when they’re running; however I haven’t read any reports of anyone
    neutralizing them, let alone any attempted pincer attack. All I’ve seen
    is footage of ISIS vipers leaving convoy style with “human shields” piled
    in the back of Toyota trucks.
    I can’t help but share b’s concerns. If Dabiq is under Turkish control
    I’m doubling down on b’s concerns. What am I missing?

  47. turcopolier says:

    1. It is impossible with the available assets to do everything one might conceive of as desirable. There is a tendency to think that assets are infinite. They are not. 2. You are looking at the action through the soda straw view presented by reporters who do not understand what they are seeing. 3. The desire to condemn the US as perfidious on your part and “b”‘s warps your judgment. pl

  48. Wasn’t referring to civilians to military deaths ratio when I mentioned Okinawa, I was referring to ppl determined to die rather than be taken alive: “neither fear, nor hope” as PL quoted

  49. Elaine, what you may be missing is a certain sense of reality on the ground, beyond more or less credible conspiracy theories

  50. elaine says:

    Colonel, I would find it next to impossible to condemn the US military,
    however I admit to having many doubts about the ultimate goals of our
    current Cpmmander-in-chief. These doubts stem from his bowing to the
    Saudi King, the coziness to the MB during the Arab Spring, taking crap from
    Erdogan, etc
    Perhaps b took too seriously a recent post on Moon in Alabama that I read after I posted. I will try & keep a more open mind so as to not get sucked
    into an Illuminati styled black hole.

  51. Bill Herschel says:

    It hasn’t started yet. Probably because ISIS must be given time to get to Syria.
    But ISIS’ exit has begun and being carefully monitored by the United States.
    The whole thing is a sham.

  52. turcopolier says:

    “Perhaps b took too seriously a recent post on Moon in Alabama” b is Moon of Alabama. pl

  53. Martin Oline says:

    I’ve often read that you need the advantage of three or four to one for a successful assault on an entrenched position. I have seen it as high as five to one in the Civil war. Reading of the tunnel system in Mosel, I rather doubted that that could be considered a fortification. The presence of so many civilians complicates the matter, but the media has shown it is willing to look the other way when it comes to the right kind of civilians. I am afraid with the start of the Trump administration it will no longer be willing to ignore that.
    I copy this from a Reuters story today:
    “A week after his tank division punched through Islamic State defenses on the southeast edge of Mosul, an Iraqi army colonel says the fight to drive the militants out of their urban stronghold is turning into a nightmare.”
    The entire story is at
    I personally feel that the attitude of General C.F. Smith towards his troops (the Iowa 2nd) at Fort Donelson is needed here, but will not be seen. He is reported to have said, “Damn you, gentlemen, I see skulkers! I’ll have none here! Come on, you volunteers, come on! This is your chance! You volunteered to be killed for love of country, and now you can be!”
    The 2nd took the breastworks with bayonet and only then put the percussion caps on their rifles, decimating the fleeing defenders. The next day the fort surrendered as the position they seized was the highest ground of the fort.

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