The Iraqi military launched a major campaign to take back a key city from the self - proclaimed Islamic State over the weekend—a move that caught the U. S. “by surprise, ” in the words of one American government official.The U. S. - led coalition forces that have conducted seven months of airstrikes on Iraq’s behalf did not participate in the attack, defense officials said, and the American military has no plans to chip in. Instead, embedded Iranian are taking part in the offensive, raising the prospect that the fight to beat back ISIS could become a sectarian war. The news is the latest indication that not all is well with the American effort against the terror group. On Friday, U. S. defense officials said that a planned offensive against the ISIS stronghold of Mosul had been indefinitely postponed. Over the weekend, an American - backed rebel group in Syria announced that it was dissolving, and joining an Islamist faction.Recommended:US plan to defeat ISIS in Mosul not workableThen there was the unexpected battle for Tikrit. Over the weekend, a reported 30,000 troops and militiamen stormed the city of Tikrit, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s hometown and the symbolic birthplace of his three decades of repressive practices against the majority Shiite population. U. S. officials were largely left in the dark of the planning and timing of the operation, defense officials said. The U. S. had seen the prospect of strikes in Tikrit for a while but the timing and nature of the attack “caught us by surprise, ” one government official explained to The Daily Beast. Perhaps the most telling evidence that the coalition was not involved in planning for a potential Tikrit campaign could be found in the coalition’s air campaign against ISIS. It has been weeks since coalition forces struck Tikrit. Meanwhile, U. S. warplanes have conducted nearly daily strikes in the Mosul in preparation for an eventual military campaign. The depth of Iranian involvement and the dearth of U. S. engagement in the battle for Tikrit suggested the coalition led campaign did little to weaken Iranian influence on Iraqi security. Two U. S. defense officials told The Daily Beast that Iranian troops were firing Iranian artillery “in the vicinity of” the Iraqi military campaign. And there were several reports that Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the shadowy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operation arm is also on the ground near Tikrit.Recommended:New evidence suggests imminent collapse of ISISThe Iraqi decision to cut out the U. S. - led coalition turned the war against ISIS in Iraq into a dual track approach—one carried out by the U. S. - led coalition another directed by the Iranians. Each has its own military strategy.
“As long as the Iranians perceive that what we’re doing comports with their objectives—which is eliminating ISIL—we’re on a parallel course there, ” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on Monday.U.S. officials have said taking back cities from ISIS will take months, in part, to minimize civilian casualties and destruction of communities. In addition, U.S. advisors are training Iraqi brigades that includes at least some semblance of Sunni representation. Source: Alwaienews