by Jessica D. Lewis
Many have asked what needs to be done about the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the terrorist organization that recently took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Questions range from the acceptability of airstrikes and the viability of a national unity government in Iraq to the feasibility of a counter-offensive that depends upon the remaining capacity of the Iraq Security Forces. These are important and worthy questions, and timely, because ISIS is growing stronger. But these questions preempt the rigorous analysis that is required in order to determine what the U.S. should do about ISIS and why.
On June 24, ISW assessed that the area of Udhaim was cleared by the ISF and Iraqi Shi’a militias. On July 28, however, the Defense Ministry announced the start of an operation that has thus far cleared three villages and remains ongoing. The operation appears to be prompted by an increasing number of clashes and IEDs emplaced in the city, which indicates a level of ISIS access to the area that challenges full ISF control. ISW is therefore changing the status of Udhaim from ISF controlled to contested.