……………………………………………………………10-24 Tehran’s reaction to this change on the game board was extreme. Our sources report that the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias assigned to subordinate tasks in the Mosul operation were immediately put on a state of readiness. Commanders of the Bader Brigades, the Population Mobilization Force and the Hashd eal-Shaabi reported that they were standing ready to attack the Turkish forces operating at Bashiqa, whom they termed “gangs of terrorists no less dangerous than ISIS.”
The Iranian government leaned hard on Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi to make him redirect Iraqi government forces from the Mosul arena to join the Shiite forces preparing to strike the Turkish troops at Bashiqa.
Al-Abadi had in the past week demanded the removal of Turkish troops from Iraqi soil, a demand Ankara just as steadily rebuffed.
Building up at present is an imminent head-to-head fight between Turkish and Kurdish forces on the one hand and Iraqi Shiites on the other.
In an effort to prevent the long-awaited Mosul operation degenerating into an all-out conflagration among US allies, with the Islamist State no doubt cheering on, the Obama administration Monday turned to Tehran, Baghdad, Ankara and Irbil and asked them to back off lest they wreck their primary mission of evicting ISIS from Mosul.
Tehran may decide to give ground on this but the price it exacts will be steep: an overhaul of the Iraqi Shiite militias’ rear position and permission for their direct intervention in the battle for Mosul, including their entry into the city. This permission the US commanders have hitherto withheld.
This would be a big prize. Mosul has been coveted by Iranian strategists as a major transit point on the land bridge they have designed to link the Islamic Republic to Syria and the Mediterranean. This prize would go by the board if the Turks and Kurds were first in the liberated city first and assumed control. http://www.debka.com/article/25735/Tehran-will-fight-Turkey’s-role-in-Mosul-operation
10-26 A senior U.S. official said about 50,000 Iraqi ground troops are taking part in the offensive, including a core force of 30,000 from the government’s armed forces, 10,000 Kurdish fighters and the remaining 10,000 from police and local volunteers.
Iraqi army units are deployed to the south and east, while Kurdish fighters are attacking from the east and the north of the city where 5,000 to 6,000 jihadists are dug in, according to Iraqi military estimates.
Roughly 5,000 U.S. troops are also in Iraq. More than 100 of them are embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces advising commanders and helping coalition air power in hitting targets. They are not deployed on frontlines.
Every power in the Middle East has claimed a stake in the fight against Islamic State, making the Mosul operation a strange coalition of nations and groups that are otherwise foes.
The attacking forces are set to increase soon if Iranian-trained Shi’ite militias join the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces. The militias’ presence is contentious because of concern that they could alienate mainly Sunni Muslim residents of the area.
The militias, known collectively as Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces, said last week they would help the army take back Tal Afar, a mainly ethnic Turkmen city west of Mosul on the road linking Iraq to Syria.
Iraqi defense ministry spokesman Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool told Al-Sumariya television channel on Wednesday that the PMF would open a new front in Mosul in the coming days.
Hadi al-Amiri, head of Badr, the most powerful group within the PMF, appeared to play down the suggestion that the group would soon join an advance in Tal Afar.
“We will not go to Tal Afar now,” he said. He also said the PMF intended to enlist both Sunnis and Shi’ites from Tal Afar to fight against Islamic State.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday Turkey would take measures should the Iranian-backed militias attack Tal Afar.
Turkey and Iraq’s Shi’ite-dominated central government are at loggerheads over the presence – unauthorized by Baghdad – of Turkish troops at a camp in northern Iraq. Ankara fears that Shi’ite militias, which have been accused of abuses against Sunni civilians elsewhere, will be used in the Mosul offensive.
U.S. President Barack Obama told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call on Wednesday that he welcomed continued talks between Iraq and Turkey to seek agreement on Ankara’s participation in the drive against Islamic State, the White House said.
Both leaders affirmed their support for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the White House said.
In a sign of Iran’s influence, Kurdish political analyst Ranj Talabany tweeted a picture purportedly showing General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the al-Quds force, the extra-territorial arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, touring the frontline held by the Kurds north of Mosul. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-idUSKCN12Q1FP