Is the Battle for Mosul Making Syria War Worse?

Vehicles of the Iraqi army in Mosul

With the battle for Mosul ongoing, military experts believe that the massive offensive could drive further instability in the Middle East and make Syria Civil War worse even if the coalition wins.

ISIS also known as ISIL has captured the Iraqi city in 2014. This weekend, Iraq, the Kurdish military, and a Western-led coalition started a massive offensive to get back Mosul. Experts, however, predict the move could take months and not yield the expected results.

The U.S. said its military forces have just a supporting role in the area, but critics say the numbers of its troops suggest otherwise. While the Pentagon reported only 100 Special Forces troops actively participate in the offensive, Russian sources claim otherwise.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov noted that the Pentagon has 5,000 “military advisers” in the region.

“Well, 5,000 advisers is a large number,”

Lavrov added.

Additionally, while the media says that the battle for Mosul could lead to the fall of ISIS, some experts don’t agree. Robert Fisk, a British journalist with a life-long experience in foreign affairs, believes Mosul offensive could worsen the Syrian conflict.

ISIL Could Flee to Syria

ISIL forces could just cross the border into the war-torn country and continue their attacks from there. Fisk wrote last week that the Western media fails to grasp the complexity of the conflict.

While some news outlets see the Mosul offensive as “a Stalingrad-style battle” with the coalition fighting ISIL forces inside the city to their death, other news agencies perceive the battle as a “swift victory.”

The swift victory would be followed by conflicts within the ISIS which could result in the demise of the group, those outlets say. But Syrians are concerned that ISIS would just abandon the city and seek safety in the Syrian areas they control. Syria had seen it happen after the collapse of Palmyra.

Fisk also said that pushing ISIS combatants back into Syria would just serve those interests that want the Syrian President Bashar Assad gone. Some Syrian military strategists even said that the battle to retake Mosul is a diversion. The real goal is to flood Syria with ISIL fighters, according to these strategists.

The fighters would abandon Mosul and flee to the city of Raqqa, a ‘mini-capital’ they have in Syria. Fisk is convinced that after the fall of Mosul, the ISIS army would invade Syria and start to fight Assad forces.

Battle could Destabilize Iraq too

The scenario already happened earlier this year, when ISIL combatants fled Fallujah to Syria. Pentagon acknowledged that ISIS is fleeing Mosul. Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky said last week U.S. troops reported “movement out of Mosul.”

The general also said that there are “indications” that ISIS leaders are no longer within the embattled city. Nevertheless, not all ISIS fighters left the city so Volesky thinks there will be a fight.

Moreover, the Mosul offensive could work against Iraq as it could trigger a civil war if the coalition wins back the city and anti-ISIS members of the coalition reach power.

Last month, U.S. Army Col. Daniel L. Lewis told Politico reporters that the battle for Mosul could lead to “an Aleppo-style quagmire.”

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