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Iraqi special forces stand to gain stature with victory over IS

Iraq's counterterrorism bureau, which is receiving accolades and lots of support, could become even more powerful in the post-Islamic State era.
A member of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) stands in a military vehicle during a battle with Islamic State militants in east of Mosul, Iraq, January 21, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani - RTSWPYD

The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service's star is rising as it battles the Islamic State (IS). The unit's success is fueling its influence, which is only expected to grow now that Iraq has launched what it hopes will be the final stage of liberating western Mosul.

Iraq has given the most important task of that operation to the counterterrorism force and its elite unit, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF), also known as the Golden Division. ISOF commander Lt. Gen. Sami Arda said Feb. 17, "Anti-terrorism forces will be responsible for undertaking the street battles in the [western half] of Mosul." They also have prepared the plan for the operation, according to the commander of counterterrorism forces Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Asadi. Now, they are moving toward the western heart of the city from the south.

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