Islamic State fighters are surrounded in western Mosul. There’s no way in or out for them.
Coalition forces are crushing the caliphate piece by piece; ISIS has now relinquished control of more than sixty percent of the territory it once held in Iraq.
More than 50,000 civilians have fled Mosul in the past month, and many of the nearly 700,000 still there are being used as human shields by the 2,000 ISIS jihadists who remain inside Iraq’s second largest city.
Because of that, U.S.-led coalition forces are using caution as they target ISIS for aerial bombardment or artillery fire. They want to minimize the loss of non-ISIS lives; too many innocent Iraqis have already died because of the Islamic terror group.
The Islamic State’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and other top ISIS leaders fled Mosul when fighting for the city began last fall. They are believed to be residing in Raqqa, the group’s capital city in northern Syria.
But it won’t be long before the final assault on Raqqa begins and it’s likely to be just as bloody as the battle to liberate Mosul.
Nearby, American troops along with coalition forces and the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia are ready for battle. However, Turkey opposes Kurdish involvement, and that may delay the start of the forthcoming fight.
So, what happens once ISIS is finally chased from Mosul and Raqqa? Will that be the end of the caliphate and their terror?
Internal ISIS documents discovered north of Mosul indicate the group plans to implement other tactics.
Although they would no longer control large swaths of territory, ISIS vows to continue the caliphate by reverting to its previous tactics of insurgency and suicide bombings--just as it did prior to 2014 when the group was known as al-Qaeda Iraq.
That may pose a greater danger beyond Syria and Iraq if the group activates suspected sleeper cells and unleashes jihadists on the West.
View the video at the top of this column to see the latest battle to drive the Islamic State from western Mosul.
And watch my (November 2016) report here to learn about the origins of ISIS: