Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Control Map of Ramadi: November 11, 2015

By Patrick Martin and ISW Iraq Team

Key Take-Away: Iraqi Security Forces have advanced towards and are proximate to infrastructure necessary for assault on downtown Ramadi. Encirclement of the city has been slow as the Iraqi Security Forces are still clearing the city’s environs, a necessary step before launching an offensive against the city.

ISW’s Control Map of Ramadi has changed to clarify the positions of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in Ramadi’s environs.

Changes to Map:

ISW has changed the control map of Ramadi from the previous iteration on November 2 to reflect a more refined assessment of where the ISF maintain presence. The ISF are launching efforts to recapture Ramadi from Habaniya base, east of Ramadi. It is likely that the ISF also maintain forward positions around Ramadi but do not have control over much of Ramadi’s outskirts in a doctrinal sense. Rather, they contest Ramadi’s suburbs and surrounding neighborhoods in the outskirts by attacking an area, along with tribal fighters, and then launching clearing operations in the same area. This disposition is more effective than previous tactics that involved the ISF shuttling back and forth between the front lines and its bases, especially if the ISF maintain a forward presence, in the manner of the successful clear and hold operations during the Surge. As these areas are still being cleared but have an ISF presence in them, the relevant areas on the map have been denoted as “Contested with ISF presence.”

Situation Report:

The ISF is approaching three important infrastructural facilities around Ramadi: the Ramadi Barrage, the Warrar Dam, and the Palestine Bridge. Control over these locations is necessary to cut off ISIS’s supply routes into the city as well as to prepare for future operation to recapture the downtown area.   The ISF are advancing towards the Palestine Bridge (2) that connects Albu Thiab area north of Ramadi with the city’s western environs. The ISF are likely advancing towards the bridge from both the east and the west, though this has not been confirmed.   Seizing the bridge is important in order to prevent ISIS from using the Euphrates River to resupply its positions in Ramadi, according to the U.S. military. The ISF are also advancing towards the former Anbar Operations Command (AOC) headquarters compound (8) north of Ramadi, likely from Albu Faraj area east of the compound. The AOC headquarters is a strategic position that overlooks the ISIS-controlled Warrar Dam (4), a key dam that controls Euphrates River water levels and acts as a bridge into Warrar neighborhood in central Ramadi. If the ISF secure the AOC headquarters and approaches the Dam, they will cut off ISIS’s ground access to Ramadi from the north and secure an important facility and access point into the center of the city. Security forces also continued operations to encircle Ramadi and the ISIS-held Ta’mim neighborhood area from the west. The ISF advanced into the Glass Factory area (9) on November 8. This area is adjacent to the Ramadi Barrage (3), a dam that controls water flow to Lake Habaniya, south of Ramadi, and acts as a bridge into the Warrar neighborhood.

If the ISF can hold the Glass Factory and approach the Ramadi Barrage, they would overlook multiple access points into central Ramadi: from the west over the Ramadi Barrage; from the north over Albu Faraj Bridge; and from the Anbar University area and the southern axis. ISW will monitor both whether the ISF around Ramadi ensure that cleared areas remain cleared and the capacity of forward-deployed ISF units to resist ISIS’s counter-attacks. The ISF’s seizure of key infrastructure around the city will set important conditions in the operation to recapture Ramadi from ISIS.