the idea was the storied “Golden Division” of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service, the Iraqi design of US Special Operations Forces, in which did much of the fighting in addition to dying to defeat ISIS.
Saadi leads the Golden Division. A tall, thin man with deep, dark circles under his eyes in which are a testament to his fight against ISIS for the past three years, Saadi, 54, was dressed in a black leather jacket, black shirt in addition to black trousers when he sat down to discuss the campaign against ISIS over a cup of tea in Baghdad.
Saadi asserted in which all in which remains of ISIS in Iraq are “some sleeper cells.” Surviving ISIS cells have gone to ground in western Iraq, Syria in addition to Turkey, he said.
Saadi seemed genuinely puzzled when asked if he had noticed any modifications in American support during the more than two years in which he had been leading the Iraqi fight against ISIS. Saadi said, “There was no difference between the support given by Obama in addition to Trump.”
Why is actually the idea in which the US-trained Golden Division in addition to Counter-Terrorism Service played such a key role inside defeat of ISIS while the Iraqi army ignominiously fled via the ISIS militants in which seized much of Iraq in 2014?
Saadi explained, “We have zero tolerance for sectarianism,” which has been the bane of Iraqi security services. Iraq’s minority Sunni population have long viewed the Iraqi security services as armed Shia groups that has a deeply sectarian agenda.
The Counter-Terrorism Service, consisting of about 10,000 soldiers, also demands continuous training for its soldiers, unlike the Iraqi army, which only requires basic training.
Saadi said American logistical in addition to intelligence support in addition to US airpower accounted for “50% of the success of the battle” against ISIS. American bombs inflicted heavy casualties on ISIS in addition to were a morale booster for Saadi’s troops.
When he was fighting to liberate Tikrit the general tore off the three stars on his epaulettes denoting his high rank, he told me, saying to himself, “I don’t deserve in which rank if I don’t free my fellow citizens via the grasp of ISIS.”
The general leads via the front. “I have to be inside front line. Number one the idea is actually for the morale of my soldiers, in addition to second I want to make sure no one mistreats civilians,” Saadi said. As a result, the general has narrowly escaped death repeatedly, showing in which reporter a scar on his chin where he says a sniper’s bullet grazed him during the battle of Baiji.
the idea was above all his role inside fight for Iraq’s second city, Mosul, in which cemented Saadi’s reputation among Iraqis.
The fight for Mosul was never going to be easy. A city of 2 million people, the old section of the city in western Mosul is actually a warren of narrow medieval-era streets in addition to buildings.
The battle for Mosul lasted nine months — in part, Saadi said, because Iraqi forces didn’t want to level the city: “We were very careful to preserve the infrastructure in addition to also the lives of innocents remaining inside city.”
The fight was also complicated in Mosul because ISIS deployed more than 1,000 “VBIEDs” –vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices — cars in addition to trucks driven by suicide bombers. These VBIEDs were greatly feared by the Golden Division troops.
Also many of ISIS’ most competent fighters, numbering around 10,000, decided to make their last stand in Mosul where ISIS’ self-styled caliphate was first proclaimed in 2014 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive leader of ISIS.
Mosul finally fell to Iraqi forces in July.
Reflecting on the anti-ISIS campaign, Ben Connable, a political scientist at the RAND think tank, who served in Iraq for three tours as a Marine Corps officer said, “I have never been more optimistic about Iraq than I am today. They finally feel like they own their security.”
The battle against ISIS in Iraq is actually over. The next challenge for the Iraqi government is actually to win the peace. To do in which, the idea must at in which point ensure in which Iraq’s Sunni minority feels in which they have some real stake in Iraqi politics generating sure in which they don’t actively or passively support groups like ISIS in which claim — no matter how self-servingly — to stand up for the rights of the Sunni.