Mosul has finally fallen after many months of intense combat. Iraqi government forces suffered severe casualties in close combat against an enemy committed to self-immolation unless ordered to withdraw to fight again elsewhere. Many of these IS creatures withdrew to the west and south to participate evidently in a final apocalyptic attempt to capture deir al zor in Syria in the hope of establishing another population center under IS control. The Iraqi assault on Mosul was greatly assisted by US coalition air support, but unfortunately this air support killed and wounded many Iraqi civilians. This was inevitable. The withdrawal of IS forces to the south into Syria was harassed and attacked all the way by RuAF and Syrian AF aircraft causing them many more casualties. This is in contradiction to the repeated claims by the US and NATO that R+6 does not fight IS.
The US seems to be losing its grip on the Iraqi government. Iraq and Russia have concluded a deal for the sale of around a hundred Russian built T-90 tanks. These will undoubtedly be accompanied to Iraq by a group of maintenance and training people. There will be ammunition and spare parts sales that accompany this deal for many years.
The Iraqi government has begun conducting air attacks against IS in Syrian territory east of the Euphrates River. This is n accord with an agreement with what the US calls the Syrian "regime." I see no evidence that the US was consulted in reaching this agreement.
The US coalition assault on Raqqa continues successfully. It is probably going to be a fight that will last nearly as long as the Mosul battle and with similar civilian casualties.
The R+6 offensive into the depths of eastern Syria has been in preparation for weeks. These preparations are near completion and an advance into the east for the purpose of driving IS out of Syria and for the relief of the Syrian garrison at deir al zor which has been besieged in heavy combat for a very long time. One can only hope that there will be no more accidental bombings by US coalition aircraft of R+6 troops involved in effecting the liberation of eastern Syria. The main attack in this campaign will IMO be an armor heavy mobile force advancing on desert roads and tracks to the southeast with the mission of reaching the sukhna- deir al zor for the purpose of turning the IS forces SW of the point at which the road is reached out of their position to create a rout in IS ranks. Presumably the column that had come from the Ithriya-Rasafa road area would combine with the Desert Hawks brigade of the SAA in continuing on to deir al zor.
In the last few days both the R+6 and the Israeli Air force have broken the ceasefire established by the US, Russia and Jordan in the three southwestern provinces of Syria. In the Israeli case they have continued to make air attacks against SAA forces near the occupied Golan Heights. Their excuse is that they have received fire in Israeli occupied Syrian territory from these forces, but in my opinion the real purpose is assistance to their jihadi allies who are engaged with SAA forces. The Israelis are supporting both IS and AQ affiliated forces. The SAA has at the same time conducted an sizable operation into eastern Suweida Province that has largely cleared the region of US supported anti-government forces who are reported to have fled to the east to the protection of US coalition centers around al-tanf .
idlib Province remains in the hands of AQ connected terrorists who are presently engaged in eradicating their IS jihadi rivals as well as FSA semi-jihadis. Good! They should keep it up. At some point the province will have to be returned to government control but that can await the completion of other government efforts.
The Turks remain on the scene in northern Aleppo Province and just across the Syria-Turkey border. Turkey seems to harbor deeply felt irredentist dreams against both Iraq and Syria. That problem is unlikely to disappear.
Finally, David Ignatius has an article in the WP (Bezo's blog) today in which he makes reference to a RAND study in which the author tries to make the case that SOF forces (Green Berets, Rangers, Delta, SEALS, and other cats and dogs) are the key to success in warfare in the future. I am a retired Special Forces officer and am deeply and persistently devoted to my regiment, a devotion I share with TTG, John Minnerath, Degringolade and others here, but I must tell you that although Green Berets are very good at working with local fighters, the rest of the SOF "crew" are direct action fighters. Their business is killing enemies with their own weapons in their small groups rather than training, urging and helping to lead the local folks. Armies through the ages are made up of dismounted fighters who are called Infantry, mounted fighters who are now called Armor and missile throwers called Artillery. IMO it will always be thus. pl