ISIL to copy ancient trench battle described in Koran for its defense of Mosul

Reeling from U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and battlefield defeats by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the Islamic State (IS) is resorting to an ancient defense strategy as a massive battle looms to eject the militants from Mosul.

The tactics are drawn from the “Battle of the Trench,” a story narrated from Islamic history texts in which the Islamic Prophet Muhammad led 3,000 defenders of Medina to prevail over 10,000 Arab and Jewish troops in 627 A.D.

IS fighters are using the ancient tale - a highly significant religious moment for many Muslims around the world - to rally followers worldwide via internet posts and social media accounts.

The size of the force left to defend IS’s last remaining stronghold in Iraq has been cut by as much as two-thirds, U.S. military officials say, leaving only 3,000 to 4,500 fighters left in Mosul, U.S. officials say. A U.S.-aided Iraqi and Kurdish assault on Mosul could begin in October, according to reports.

"They know they don't have what it takes to stop that offensive," Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Colonel John Dorrian said Thursday, referring to IS.

Copying the prophet’s war tactic, IS has dug miles of trenches around Mosul – a city of about a half-million people it has controlled since June 2014. Thousands of concrete barriers have been erected by militants around the outskirts of Mosul, according to American and Kurdish intelligence.

“IS has increased its efforts to fortify the city with the trenches and the barriers over the last couple months,” Ismat Rajab, a Kurdish Mosul official in exile, told VOA. “The trenches are three meters deep and two meters wide and are filled with oil in some places. ... IS knows losing Mosul is deadly for them, so they will do anything to hold it.”

In its media postings, IS has named its Mosul operation “Battle of the Trench," copying the moniker for the prophet-led victory in what is now Saudi Arabia. The 14-century-old battle is often taught by Muslim preachers as a story of Muslim victory by a unified flock, a willingness to overcome oppression, and a lesson to obey leaders during difficult situations.

One preacher in Mosul harkened back to the prophet’s conquest in a recent speech, according to the Iraqi news agency Niqash.

“War is coming and the survival of the caliphate will depend on the steadfastness of Mosul in confronting the infidels,” the preacher, a man in his 30s, told worshipers in the Umar ibn al-Khattab mosque in Mosul’s Nahrawan neighborhood.
There is much more.

This is further evidence of the Islamic roots of ISIL despite the attempts of some in the administration to discount it.  That being said, I think these tactics can be easily defeated by a tank force with bulldozer blades attached to the front of the tanks to push sand into the trenches before crossing them.  Primitive defenses are unlikely to work against a modern military.  It does show you that they find examples in the Koran for every wacky thing they do.


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