“The airport has been nearly erased from existence,” said an analysis released Thursday by Stratfor Forecasting, a private intelligence and consulting firm that provided the satellite images. The analysis described the airport’s dismantling as a part of a “scorched earth” campaign intended slow the advance of the Iraqi and Kurdish forces now fighting their way through Mosul’s southern and western outskirts.
While seizing the airport normally would be considered a primary objective for the Iraqi army, Mosul’s airport is “now essentially worthless as an asset for attacking forces,” the Stratfor analysis stated.
The Islamic State’s leaders in recent weeks have released recorded messages urging Mosul’s defenders to prepare to become martyrs, signaling that the fight will be difficult and bloody to the end, Thomas Joscelyn, senior editor of the Long War Journal, said Thursday at a forum on Mosul sponsored by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank.
“ ‘Remaining and expanding’ was their long-term model,” Joscelyn said, “and now it’s basically, ‘We’re going to fight to the death.’ ”