Just one day after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) launched an assault on Samarra in central Iraq and briefly took control of five neighborhoods, the jihadist insurgent group attempted to seize Mosul June 6. Hundreds of ISIS fighters "advanced on Mosul from the northwest and deployed in large numbers in the west of the city," Reuters reported. Three Iraqi soldiers and four police troops were killed in the resulting clashes. In southern Mosul, a suicide assault team made up of five heavily armed ISIS fighters attacked a weapons depot and killed 11 soldiers. Some of the members of the team detonated their suicide vests during the raid. And in the nearby village of Muwaffakiya, a minority Shabak community, a pair of suicide car bombs killed six people.
Mosul was the last major city to serve as a bastion for the ISIS after the US and Iraqi forces launched counterinsurgency operations as part of the surge that began in 2007. By the time US forces left Iraq at the end of 2011, the ISIS was operating cells in the city. ISIS began reasserting itself as the Syrian civil war picked up steam in the summer of 2011 and US forces withdrew from Iraq a few months later in December.
Also June 6, ISIS took over Anbar University in Ramadi and held hundreds of students and staff hostage for several hours before retreating. An ISIS assault team killed three police who were guarding the entrance to the campus. Iraqi forces battled with ISIS fighters as students fled the university grounds. The ISIS abandoned the school during the clash. No students were killed.
Ramadi was one of two major cities in Anbar that were taken over by the ISIS at the start of this year. Although Iraqi forces claimed to have retaken control of Ramadi, clashes are routinely reported both inside and outside the city. Earlier this week, a suicide bomber killed one of the top leaders of the Anbar Awakening, an anti-ISIS tribal militia that is supported by the government. Fallujah remains under the control of the ISIS and allied insurgent groups. (Long War Journal, June 7)