The battle to retake Mosul is underway and is being led by mostly Shia forces to expel ISIS. In doing so, they’ll free Sunnis – who may not like it.

The sectarian violence after the battle got out of control it would spread into Syria – and vice versa. Because – the reality is – there are no borders any longer. Iraq is the last bastion of a nation in Mesopotamia. They are historically significant and active areas on the globe. They’ve played a role for much of human history, and the same is true today. The civilians in Mosul are about to face an onslaught of violence and collateral damage.

The entire city is said to be booby-trapped with explosives. ISIL will not be defeated in a single sweep through Mosul. But they’ll linger on, recuperate and mount follow-on assaults. They may also return at a much later date or send in small elements to cause trouble and clack off suicide explosions.

It’s also a cultural booby-trap because this effort is going to create a humanitarian crisis. The fighting will rage, and refugees will flow out of the city. There’s little room for refugees to the west as much of that area is predominantly controlled by ISIS. This will also present a harsh reality for Americans. Because we’ll fighting alongside Shia militias and Qassem Soleimani is sure to be present. David Petraeus, during an interview with Charlie Rose, said to expect a selfie with a Shia militiaman.

Iraq’s second largest city is mostly Sunni. But Shia forces, both Iraqi and Militia such as Hezbollah, will fight to free the city of ISIL. But – we know that, at times, some Shia forces have proved to be similarly brutal to Sunnis as ISIS or Al-Qaeda. Thousands of these Sunni families have already dealt with minefields and a violent arena to escape or try to escape Mosul. Reports are pouring in that the Islamic State is preparing the Mosul civilians to be used as human shields. There’s no way to do this without civilian casualties. There will be some reservations by the Sunni community that some of these civilians will be killed by Shia. Although they’re killed by the same Shia attempting to save them.

These sectarian divides run far deeper than one good act can bury. U.N. officials warn that up to 1.5 Million civilians are at risk in the battle. But it’s strategically necessarily to maintain the integrity of Iraq, for now. Also, there can be no victory against ISIS in Syria without one in Iraq, first. The Iraqi has always played the most important role. ISIS can be defeated, not easily, not in a simple fashion – but they can assuredly be defeated by the Iraqis. It’s what happens next that has most senior officials worried. How do you deal with the rising sectarian tensions in an area becoming hardened beyond a point we’ve seen in modern times?

Featured image courtesy of CNN.com.

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