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From Tehran to Mosul

Iran and the Middle East's Great Game

A member of a Shiite militia looks out at Islamic State positions near Mosul, October 2016. Stringer / Reuters

The battle for Mosul is finally underway. The fight to dislodge the Islamic State (ISIS) from Iraq’s second largest city, which it has occupied since June 2014, promises to be a bloody slog. A battlefield victory could take weeks or even months.

In addition to the challenges of taking the city, the sheer array of actors involved in the Mosul drama could lead to serious complications once ISIS is driven out. The United States is backing a coalition that includes Iraqi military forces and Sunni tribal militias. Kurdish Peshmerga and largely Shiite militia groups are also involved, but they are confined to liberating villages and towns outside the city. The plan is to whittle away at ISIS control surrounding Mosul, advance into the city from various angles, and leave an open corridor out of the city to allow for an ISIS retreat back to Syria. Turkey, which already has troops

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