Coming early this afternoon!
ISW’s Research Director, Jessica Lewis, former active duty Army intelligence officer in Iraq, lays out her forecast of ISIS’ next steps as it seeks to destroy the Iraqi state, eliminate the Iraqi Army as a threat, and establish its regional foundation.
By Jessica Lewis
There are indications that ISIS is about to launch into a new offensive in its Iraq campaign. ISIS published photos of a military parade through the streets of Mosul on June 24 showcasing the US military equipment, including armored vehicles and towed 155mm guns. ISIS reportedly executed another parade in Hawija on June 26. These parades may be a demonstration force to reinforce their control of these urban centers. They may also be a prelude to ISIS troop movements, and it is important to anticipate where ISIS may deploy these forces forward.
Meanwhile, ISIS also renewed the use of suicide bombers in the vicinity of Baghdad. An ISIS bomber with a suicide vest (SVEST) attacked the Kadhimiya shrine in northern Baghdad on June 26, one of the four holy sites in Iraq that Iran and Shi’a militias are most concerned to protect. ISIS also incorporated an SVEST into a complex attack in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, on June 25, in a zone primarily controlled by the ISF and Shi’a militias on the road from Baghdad to Karbala. These attacks are demonstrations that ISIS has uncommitted forces in the Baghdad Belts that may be brought to bear in new offensives.
ISIS’s offensive has not culminated, and the ISIS campaign for Iraq is not over. Rather, as Ramadan approaches, their main offensive is likely imminent.