Key Takeaway: Russia is preparing to escalate its military operations in Syria in order to tout its standing as a great power, reinforce its claims to be a credible partner against violent extremism, and reinvigorate domestic support for its continued participation in the Syrian Civil War. Russia has set conditions for a major demonstration of its military might following the completion of the latest in a long series of ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Aleppo City set to end on November 4.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) began advancing into Mosul’s eastern and southeastern neighborhoods on November 1-3, marking the first time the ISF has had any presence in the city since ISIS captured it in mid-2014.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) reached Mosul’s eastern city limits on October 31 to begin the initial push into the city. Meanwhile, Iraqi Shi’a militias, including Iranian proxies and U.S.-designated terrorist groups, opened up a western axis on October 29 with the intention to retake Tel Afar, west of Mosul.
Operations to retake Mosul have made minimal progress since the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) announced an operational pause on October 25 in order for the five axes approaching Mosul to re-sync before advances into the city limits begin.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Peshmerga forces launched operations from eastern and southern axes to recapture Mosul and Ninewa province on October 17.
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and Peshmerga contested ISIS’s hold over significant urban centers in Mosul’s environs from October 22-24, 2016. In response, ISIS continued to launch suicide attacks against advancing security forces and to attack far-flung areas in a diversionary tactic.
ISIS launched a major counter-attack in Kirkuk Province in response to advances by Iraqi and Kurdish security forces towards Mosul on October 20 and 21.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with counterparts from Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and Egypt in Lausanne, Switzerland on October 15 to open a new multilateral initiative to end the Syrian Civil War. Meanwhile, Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu announced a temporary halt to pro-regime airstrikes in Eastern Aleppo City on October 18 in preparation for a series of three consecutive eleven-hour ‘humanitarian pauses’ scheduled for October 20 - 22.
The Coalition-led operation to secure Mosul from ISIS advanced towards the city from two directions in the first 72 hours as of October 19, 2016. U.S. Forces are participating in the operation as advisers and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs).
ISIS will continue to demonstrate its legitimacy and vitality, despite major losses to its core landholdings. ISIS lost control of the Turkish border on September 4 and the town of Dabiq in Northern Syria on October 16.