IRAQ TRACKER 4 JUL: Islamic Stat imposes control over Hawija area; continued IS-JRTN fighting in Sadiyah; 3ID remnants arrive in Awja for Tikrit assault

In Kirkuk, Islamic State elements imposed control on four villages that had resisted their presence, taking the homes of each hamlet’s tribal of political leader. In Arumel, a small village home to Hadid tribal leader Anwar al-Asi, IS took Asi’s house after having overrun the village during their push to the Ajil oilfield last week and forcing Asi to flee to Sulaymaniyah. For IS, the strategic position of the village next to the Tikrit-Kirkuk highway and the Hamrin Mountains likely outweighs the costs of alienating tribal elements in the area. In Mahouz, home of Education Minister Mohammed Tamim, tribal elements recently took back the local police station from IS, but the village is likely under ISIS control following the fall of Tamim’s house. In Tal Asfar, another village next to the Tikrit-Kirkuk highway, IS kicked out Hadid tribal leader Sheikh Lukman Dhari al-Asi. Lastly, the home of former MP Yassin al-Obeidi in Riyadh sub-district was overrun. This is the first tangible indication that IS intends to follow through with its plans to pacify its areas of control in the Hawija arc.

In Diyala, clashes erupted between the Islamic State and JRTN for the third time in a week, this time in the eastern villages of Sadiyah. Two men of each side were killed. North of Sadiyah, Peshmerga claimed to have killed five IS elements with an artillery strike on a house in the southern reaches of Jalula as IS returned mortar fire.

In Salah ad-Din, IS used IEDs to detonate the home of Salah ad-Din police chief MGEN Hamad Nams, who had already fled. Simultaneously, IS detonated IEDs on part of the Baiji police directorate, killing four children who were nearby. Critically, 3rd Division elements arrived to reinforce the bulk of the Fourth Division, which has been stationed and staging at its former HQ of Awja over the past week in preparation for a push northward. The 3rd Infantry Division had presumably partially collapsed in the general retreat from Mosul.

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Back in Washington, Dana Priest and Aaron Gregg report that no Iraqi “team” has qualified to fly the F-16 and none will until mid-August. Individual pilots are indeed ready, as has been reported before, but flying a fourth-generation fighter jet requires more than one servicemember. The flight teams are not the limiting factor, in my opinion–the infrastructure to support the F-16 contingent doesn’t yet exist. Nor do the F-16s really matter all that much, given the fact that Iraq is calling is airstrikes from both of its neighbors, Iran and Syria.

Finally, the U.S. military reports that it has begun scrambling to fit AGM-114K/R Hellfires to aircraft other than the two extant AC-208s; given the fact that SOCOM and

 

 

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