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David Kilcullen, The Australian: How to defeat Islamic State

The US-led coalition’s campaign clearly isn’t working in its present form. Here’s what needs to change.

Early last month, Iraqi troops, Shia militias and a Sunni tribal force recaptured Tikrit, returning Saddam Hussein’s birthplace to government control for the first time since January last year. Kurdish forces stabilised their front west of Irbil, and positional warfare — patrolling, trench raids, artillery duels and occasional assaults across static battle lines — developed in the country’s north.

Coalition and Iraqi leaders spoke of an offensive in the late northern summer or autumn to recapture Mosul, the strategic anchor of northern Iraq, home to two million and under Islamic State occupation since last June.

Several Islamic State leaders allegedly were killed or wounded about the same time. A Shia militia in the Hamrin Mountains of northeastern Iraq claimed to have killed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Saddam’s former vice-president and leader of a Baathist force loosely allied with Islamic State. There were rumours that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, head of Islamic State, had been killed or wounded in an airstrike, and his deputy Abu Alaa al-Afri also was dead.

WNU Editor: The author of this report (David Kilcullen) worked with General Petraeus in developing the strategy for the surge in the Sunni regions of Iraq that eventually defeated Al Qaeda during the height of the Iraq war .... his analysis on the current fighting is a sober and must read.

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