IS attack shows Iraqi fragility

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Despite clinging to only a sliver of territory in Mosul, Islamic State militants managed to launch a counterattack Friday that reversed days of Iraqi army territorial gains in just a matter of hours — a setback that underscores the fragility of the Iraqi security forces despite years of U.S.-led coalition training as well as the instability likely to follow the city’s liberation.

The offensive began just after noon, when 50 to 100 IS fighters began firing on units of the Iraqi army’s 16th Division charged with holding the northwest frontline in the Mosul’s Old City neighborhood. The attack broke through the army’s first line of defense and the rest of its lines soon crumbled.

The surprise attack illustrated the resilience of the extremists who, though controlling less than a square kilometer (half-mile) of territory, have maintained the ability to conduct both conventional military counterattacks and insurgent strikes.