Iraq Situation Report: January 20-21, 2015

By: Sinan Adnan and ISW Iraq Team  

Key Takeaway:

Peshmerga forces resumed their offensive posture in northern Iraq following a recent lull in anti-ISIS operations. This recent operational pause likely had to do with ISIS advances on areas near Arbil, prompting the KRG to allocated more resources to defend the Iraqi Kurdish capital. Peshmerga operations against ISIS today targeted two strategic areas. First, the Wana sub-district and its environs, located near the Mosul Dam. These areas will be a potential flashpoint for possible ISIS attacks on the strategic dam and Peshmerga positions in the area and nearby. Second, operations targeted the Kisak area, which sits on the road that connects Mosul to Tal Afar and proceeds onwards to Syria through Rabia sub-district and Sinjar district. If the Peshmerga succeed in taking control of Kisak, they would cause a major disruption to ISIS lines of communication (LOCs) to and from Tal Afar, Sinjar, and Syria. It will be important to watch for an ISIS counter-attack against the Peshmerga close to Arbil attempting to force the KRG to shift resources. Moving west, the last 48 hours have witnessed a significant increase in operational tempo of ISIS in Anbar Province. Attacks were concentrated in the same areas where ISIS focused its military efforts nearly a month ago, mainly in the provincial capital, Ramadi; in Sjariya to the east, which lies adjacent to an important supply route that runs from Habaniya base to Ramadi; and in the Sahwa stronghold in the Albu Risha area.

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