TO: OC A COY 2 PARA
FROM: OC 2 PARA Battle Group Intelligence Cell
SUBJECT: Current situation in province
The situation in Al Rayak province remains uncertain at best. Intelligence reports suggest that recent NATO operations in Diyala province have inflicted severe casualties on DS forces. This in turn appears to have disrupted the ability of DS to conduct the large scale offensive operations which characterised their advance across the region so recently. The inability to push Iraqi forces from the larger towns in Al Rayak supports our intelligence that DS forces in the region are thinly scattered and lacking the manpower to continue their advance. Despite this lack of offensive capabilities DS forces in the region remain a highly dangerous threat. DS forces continue to besiege the larger cities in the North resulting in a mounting humanitarian crisis. Furthermore DS forces continually harass smaller villages and terrorise the local population.
Recent weeks has seen a shift in the tactics DS are employing. Heavily losses attempting to hold ground against coalition forces has convinced DS commanders of the futility of attempting to conquer and hold ground in the face of such overpowering force that coalition nations are able to bring to bear. DS cells in the region have taken to ambushing Iraqi army units, terrorising locals and looting villages. DS forces have for example only made token efforts at pushing Iraqi government forces from Al Safyrha and continue to bottle up Iraqi forces further north without attempting to capture cities. DS forces continue to ambush convoys attempting to deliver aid to besieged towns to the north and are making full use of captured oil fields in the region.
Iraqi forces in the region do not seem to have the strength nor the will to conduct offensive operations of their own in the region and seem willing to allow DS forces to continue besieging cities to the north. Iraqi army commanders in the region seem more than content to maintain the status quo and as such do not seem willing to make a large scale effort to relieve cut off towns and villages. We must sadly question the capabilities of Iraqi forces in the region to offer coalition forces support in operations against DS.
Our intelligence points to the possibility that DS forces in the region have been tasked with holding down as many Iraqi and coalition troops as possible in the hope of relieving pressure in other threatened areas such as Mosul. Obviously we are unaware of exact numbers of fighters in the region however given the tactics DS have taken to employing in the region we believe it may be in in the low hundreds across the region. DS forces continue to have the use of captured armoured assets such as T-55's however they seem unwilling to risk them in light of heavy losses to coalition forces in Diyala. There is every possibility that DS forces are retaining what armoured assets they have at their disposal in the region for defensive operations further north. No armoured vehicles have been reported operating in the vicinity of Al Safyrha. DS also retains limited anti air capabilities. ZU23's are known to be in DS's arsenal and are in all likelihood employed in the foothills of the region. DS forces have are also know. To posses a small stock of MANPAD's such as stingers however no attacks against coalition forces have been reported agains coalition aircraft in Southern Al Rayak using such devices.
Kata' ib al Saif militia whilst nominally pro government should be deemed as both highly suspicious and dangerous. Although the militia are supportive of our actions against DS forces they continue to mistrust Western motives in the region. Kata' ib al Saif continues to receive arms and training form the Iraqi army however there is strong evidence that the militia also receives funding from Iran. Despite the cooperation between the militia and government forces there have been recent tensions. The lack of action from Iraqi troops has caused many within the ranks of the militia to question the motives of government forces in the region. This tension has on occasion boiled over resulting in skirmishes between local militia units and Iraqi government forces.
Kata' ib al Saif have also used the turmoil in the region to expand their influence and further their own cause. Unconfirmed reports suggest that following the liberation of a town to the south of Al Safyrha more than thirty 'spies, collaborators and deviants' were summarily executed. Kata' ib al Saif forces have also attempted to forces their brand of militant Shia Islam on the region and reports suggest they are growing in support and influence. Iraqi Government forces seem to be incapable of stemming the influence of the militias and indeed many locals see the militias as they only credible force taking action spin the region agains DS forces.
Deal very carefully with Kata' ib al Saif forces. It is our belief that they will seek to fill any void left by DS in the region. Sadly local government officials appear both incapable and or unwilling to curb the mounting strength and influence of the militia.