ISIS continued to demonstrate its ability to carry out spectacular attacks inside Baghdad from January 6 to 11, following weeks of increasing activity in the capital in response to its losses in Mosul.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) reached the Tigris River on January 8 after recapturing several of the remaining neighborhoods in southeast Mosul. In the north, the ISF pushed into central Mosul from the north and east from January 4 to 9, nearing the University of Mosul.
ISIS launched waves of counteroffensives and spectacular attacks across Iraq after operations in eastern Mosul resumed on December 29.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) launched the second phase of operations in Mosul on December 29, 2016, after weeks of limited gains and heavy casualties. The Coalition and ISF introduced new accelerants that revived the push, including advisors embedded at a lower-level and increased ISF deployments, allowing the ISF to make significant gains in eastern Mosul from December 29 to January 3, 2017.
Turkey, Russia, and Iran released a joint statement - termed the ‘Moscow Declaration’ - noting that all three countries agree to “facilitate and become the guarantors” of any political agreement to end the Syrian Civil War following a trilateral meeting in Moscow, Russia on December 20. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces announced their full control over Aleppo City on December 22 following the last evacuations from the remaining opposition-held districts of Eastern Aleppo City.
Local and regional actors are maneuvering to secure their position in 2017 and for a post-ISIS Mosul.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) poses an evolving threat to the U.S., its allies, and its broader interests. Its approach to information warfare has represented a key component of its overall strategy, including during the period it has faced sustained pressure. ISIS has suffered significant setbacks on the ground, yet has demonstrated the ability to adapt.
Operations in eastern Mosul largely paused from December 13 to 19 likely in order to stem the growing casualties taken by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and to regroup before pushing into central Mosul. Meanwhile, the Popular Mobilization continued its push west, connecting its parallel lines of effort when it recaptured the north-south road between the Tel Afar Airbase and the southern town of Ashwa on December 13.
Opposition forces and civilians began to evacuate from Eastern Aleppo City on December 15 following bilateral negotiations between Russia and Turkey. Opposition forces also agreed on medical evacuations from Fu'ah and Kefraya in Idlib Province after Iran threatened to collapse the agreement. Meanwhile, ISIS recaptured the city of Palmyra in Eastern Homs Province on December 11, marking the first seizure of a major urban center by ISIS in Iraq and Syria since May 2015