Iraq, Syria To Conduct More Joint Military Actions Against Isis, Says Analyst
More joint military attacks on terrorists retreating across the Iraqi-Syrian border will likely happen as Iraqi forces continue to make progress on retaking western Mosul from the control of Islamic State (ISIS) militants, according to Iraqi security analyst Fadel Abu Raghif.
Iraqi forces had made rapid progress since the battle to reclaim western Mosul began on February 19, including recapturing two strategic areas: Mosul International Airport and the nearby Ghizlani military camp on the 23. Raghif said controlling the two areas will greatly expand Iraqi forces' advantage on the battlefield and help them to advance further westward.
"Take the Ghizlani military camp, it is located on higher ground so extremists can't attack with indirect fire. Their shells have lost half of their power. It is also difficult for them to attack uphill, but the Iraqi forces will have more power attacking from higher ground," said Raghif.
Prior to recapturing the first neighborhood in western Mosul, Iraqi forces had relocated around 1,000 residents to safety. Raghif also pointed out that as the battlefront advances to heavy populated areas, Iraqi forces will pay more attention to avoiding civilian casualties, which could slow down progress.
Iraq's Joint Operation Command said Friday that its fighter jets had carried out air strikes against extremists in Syria for the first time in cooperation with the Syrian government.
Military analysts suggest fleeing to Syria became one of the extremists' few options as the ISIS suffers a streak of defeats in Iraq, meaning there will be more joint operations between the two countries on their borders.
"I think there will be more joint attacks like this in the coming days targeting those areas where extremists are active, such as Abu Kamal, Deir ez-Zor and Al-Qa'im. They are all very close to the borders of Iraq and Syria," said Raghif.