Posted on October 16, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Islamic State, Mosul
Oil wells set ablaze by Islamic State militants before fleeing oil-producing region of Qayyara, Iraq. Photo: Reuters
HEWLÊR-Erbil, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Islamic State (IS) set ablaze trenches filled with oil around Mosul on Saturday, as the Iraqi army and Peshmerga forces positioned themselves for an assault believed to be imminent to evict the militants out of their last major Iraqi stronghold.
“IS militants have set fire to crude oil in trenches they had dug ahead of the battle in order to raise huge columns of smoke to hide from airstrikes” by coalition forces,” said Hamid Afandi, commander of the Peshmerga forces on the Bashiq front.
He said that was a new tactic for IS.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s meteorology department reported that thick clouds of smoke, traveling from Mosul, were seen on the outskirts of Erbil, the Kurdish capital.
“A windstorm has brought thick black smoke from Daesh (IS) burning crude oil in Mosul to the northeastern part of Erbil, covering the capital and its surrounding skies,” it said in a statement.
The Iraqi army, its affiliated militias and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces are poised for an assault on Mosul, which is believed to be imminent. There is much speculation about what IS will do to hold on to the city, which the militants captured in June 2014.
According to Babakir Zebari, the former chief of staff of the Iraqi army, IS will fight fiercely to hold on the city.
“During the Mosul offensive IS has two options: either not fight back at all and retreat from the city or prepare for a bloody war,” said Zebari, who is a Kurd.
“Last year the IS preacher in Mosul said, ‘we declared the Caliphate here and if we lose it we will lose it right here, so we will wage a bloody war for it,’” Zebari reminded.
IS has built three lines of defense, the first being trenches filled with oil, according to military experts.
“To defend Mosul from falling, IS has built three defensive lines: the first one is long trenches filled with crude oil to raise columns of smoke designed to make it harder for coalition warplanes to find their targets,” said Ihsan Qaysoon, a Kuridsh military expert.