A series of attacks along the Mosul-Baghdad and Kirkuk-Baghdad highways on June 10th indicate that ISIS activity is moving southward toward Baghdad.
Mosul: Fighting from June 5th-9thculminated in a takeover of Western Mosul on the evening of the 9th. ISIS took control of the Ninewa Provincial Government building, Ninewa Operations Command military headquarters, Mosul General Hospital, Mosul Airport, several police stations, and private banks. On June 10th, approximately 3,000 prisoners were freedfrom Badosh and Tasfirat prisons, as well as a counter-terrorism prison, northwest of the city. Meanwhile, several thousands of displaced families fledthe city. The Ministry of Defense designatedTaji, North of Baghdad, as the gathering place for armed forces withdrawing from Mosul; the Ministry also announced that military aircraft will be transported to Kirkuk.
Sharqat: Eighty ISIS militants attackedSharquat, which is located south of Mosul in Salah ah-Din province. The forces took complete control of the city as well as the nearby Qaiyarah air base, located further south along Iraq’s highway 1. Unconfirmed sources reportedthat ISIS militants took a Black Hawk helicopter from the Qaiyarah air base.
Baiji: ISF closed the entrances to Baiji, but amidst reportedclashes, ISIS was able to seizea power station, an IA barracks, and a police station in Baiji. The power station serves Baghdad, Salah ad-Din, and Kirkuk. ISIS also reportedly took the nearby town of Siniyah
Tikrit: Entrances and exits into Tikrit were closedby the ISF and government departments evacuated. ISF forces were also deployed throughout the city. Later in the day, unconfirmed sources reported clashes between ISIS and ISF in Tikrit and ISIS seizedcheckpoints in rural areas around Tikrit.
These sequential, southward developments along the Mosul-Baghdad highway are accompanied by kinetic activity along the eastern Kirkuk-Baghdad highway. ISF retreated from several cities south of Mosul, allowing ISIS to seize more ground and launch further attacks.
Kirkuk Province: Shafaq News reportedthat the city of Hawija, west of Kirkuk, fell “without a fight.” Other cities in the western part of Kirkuk province, including Rashad, Zab, Riyad, and Abbasi, as well as parts of Daquq, also fellunder ISIS control. ISIS also claimedcontrol of army barracks in Rashad. The governor of Kirkuk, Najm al-Din Karim, imposeda curfew on vehicles and individuals in the city of Kirkuk from 23:00 to 4:00 until further notice.
Tuz Khurmatu and surrounding areas: Further south along the highway, 10 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) explodedalong the highway in the village of Hibish, south of Tuz Khurmatu. The IEDs targeted a convoy of IA vehicles evacuating from Mosul to Baghdad, causing 30 casualties and damaging five IA vehicles.
Military sources have also statedthat ISIS has taken control of the village of Yankajaand the strategic town of Salman Beg, south of Tuz Khurmatu.
National Response: In response to the day’s events, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offeredweapons and equipment to citizens willing to fight ISIS and stated he had “created a special crisis cell to follow up on the process of volunteering and equipping and arming.”
Peshmerga Response:The Peshmerga forces, of the Regional Government of Kurdistan (RKG), deployedto several locations over the course of the day. According to an anonymous security source, two Peshmerga regiments movedto areas around Hawija on the afternoon of the 10th, in coordination with Prime Minister Maliki.
Later in the day, two Peshmerga brigades were reportedly deployedto Tuz Khurmatu and the surrounding area, including to mountains northeast of Tikrit. Peshmerga forces were also able to retake the town of Rabia, on the Iraq-Syria border, from ISIS. Support forces later made their way to Sinjar, a town father east on the Iraq side of the border.