Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 177, Apr 11, 2017


The grey area in the east along the Tigris River is the Old City, where the police have been holding down the Islamic State. The bulges in the middle of the front are where the Golden Division has been making its advances in recent weeks. Green = Liberated, White = IS Control, Blue = Tigris River. (Nineveh Media Center)

Both the police and Counter Terrorism Forces (CTF) – Golden Division were at work in west Mosul. On April 10 the Golden Division was fighting in Tanak, Abar, Aruba, and Matahen. That last neighborhood was declared freed the day before. On April 11, the unit was said to be clearing Matahen, Yarmouk and Maghreb. Maghreb was liberated on April 5, and Yarmouk on April 10. These are all areas in the center and western sections of the city, where the CTF have been making steady advances. The Federal Police and Rapid Reaction Division on the other hand, have claimed they were pushing towards the Grand Mosque in the Old City section in the east each day, but in reality they were not making any serious movement. This was continuously denied over the last few weeks, but was finally admitted in an announcement that they re-started their attack upon the Old City. The Federal Police assaulted three strongpoints of the Islamic State near the Grand Mosque. IS was said to be retreating from the district, and forcing civilians to go with them as human shields. The operation against the Old City quickly ground to a halt due to the dense layout, narrow streets, and tough Islamic State defenses. That forced a re-think of tactics and strategy. Reports of heavy civilian casualties caused more delays as well.


Maps released by the government show that the Iraqi forces are now in control of roughly half of west Mosul. Iraqi propaganda constantly gives different and contradictory figures however. The latest came from the Joint Operations Command that claimed 90% of west Mosul had been seized. Unfortunately Iraqi official statements on such matters are reliably unreliable.

Voice of America questioned the Iraqi police tactics. A former army officer mentioned that when the police run into resistance in Mosul they usually call in heavy shelling to level an area. A police artillery unit seemed to confirm that saying that it regularly fired up to 200 shells per day. It said that it used drones to acquire its targets and tried to avoid civilian casualties. However the fact that people are known to be sheltering inside their homes to escape the fighting and IS is using civilians as human shields it is highly unlikely that residents are not being hit by all of the mortars, rockets and guns being employed.

Civilians remain the major victims of the Mosul campaign. A Coalition airstrike was blamed for 3 deaths and 2 wounded. An unidentified air strike killed another person and injured 8. IS mortar and rocket fire on three neighborhoods left 9 dead and 25 wounded. The insurgents executed another three people, two for trying to escape and at least one child because the father refused to follow orders.

Crime is still major, yet little reported concern in Mosul. Men in military uniforms robbed a tire market in west Mosul. Both gangs and members of the security forces have been accused of looting and stealing in both sides of the city.

The town of Tal Afar to the west of Mosul has been encircled for months now. Its fate will have to wait until Mosul is freed. That has greatly frustrated the Hashd who planned on taking the town long ago. It is still unclear whether they will even be given that task or whether it will be assigned to the army and police. In the meantime the Hashd regularly take shots at the Americans for the situation. The latest was when a Hashd spokesman claimed that the Americans were delaying an attack on Tal Afar so that it could rescue IS leaders. He also mentioned that Turkey was involved as well. This is common propaganda, especially from the Iranian backed groups that want to discredit the Coalition and its role in Iraq.

Ninewa’s governor told the press that provincial service offices were re-opening in west Mosul. That included traffic, nationality, civil defense, water, sewage, municipalities, and electricity. The goal is to clean up the streets first, and then to restore water and power. East Mosul was freed at the end of January 2017, but there are no services there yet. The government is barely present in that section of the city, and it has had problems getting public workers to return to their jobs because of the security issues. West Mosul is even more dangerous as there is still fighting going on and it is constantly being hit by IS mortars and rockets.

Besides the fighting the people of Mosul are facing other hardships. One is extreme shortages. Many people coming out of the city say that they had no food for days. There are stories of people eating plants and flour mixed with water. A new infant emergency section in a hospital reported that most of its patients were suffering from malnutrition. This was rarely seen in Iraq before, but the siege of the city has cut off most supplies and the people still living in insurgent control areas are suffering as a result.

Iraqi traders are attempting to restart their businesses in Ninewa. A Kurdish businessman said that he was shipping in goods from Turkey into east Mosul. There are many small businesses and markets that have re-opened there, and they are desperate for products. Another entrepreneur told Reuters he’d signed a contract to provide supplies to a displacement camp in Khazir. One major impediment the firms face is all of the checkpoints they have to pass through. At each one they have to pay bribes to members of the security forces. This is common throughout Iraq, but in Ninewa it is especially difficult because there are so many in and around Mosul because of the on going battle there.

People were still to move in and out of Mosul and Ninewa in general. The United Nations counted 320,496 people displaced in the province since the start of the Mosul campaign in October 2016. The real figure is much higher as many people never registered or moved within Mosul. Around 5,000 people per day were arriving at Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul during the 1st week of April. That was down from 15,000 per day that were showing up at the end of March. The pause in fighting in sections of the city probably accounted for the dip. Many of the newly displaced (IDPs) were being sent to the Jadah 5 camp, which is almost at capacity. At the same time from March 31 to April 10 7,026 IPDs went back to their homes. The U.N. had a total of 86,298 returns so far. Again many more were not officially counted.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "CTS liberates Maghreb neighborhood in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 4/5/17

Arraf, Jane, “Survivors Describe Devastation After U.S. Airstrike On Mosul,” NPR, 4/11/17

Baghdad Post, "12 civilians killed, injured in air raid in Mosul," 4/11/17
- "Chlorine-laden shell hits Mosul left bank, woman injured," 4/11/17

Bas News, "IS Executes Pregnant Woman with Her Husband in Mosul," 4/11/17

Buratha News, "Daash terrorists kills children of Mosul muzzin who refused to obey the orders of the organization," 4/11/17

Coles, Isabel, “Babies starve as war grinds on in Mosul,” Reuters, 4/11/17

Iraq News Network, “Joint operations; 90% of right bank of Mosul liberated,” 4/11/17

Laessing, Ulf, “Kurdish merchants, Turkish goods take back Mosul food trade,” Reuters, 4/11/17

Al Maalomah, “Leader in the popular crowd: America is hindering the liberation of Tal Afar to remove some of the trapped foes,” 4/11/17

Al Mada, “Joint forces are trying to besiege all of the Old City before breaking into it,” 4/12/17

Al Masalah, “Re-opening government departments in liberated neighborhoods of Mosul,” 4/11/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Coalition jets, mortar missiles kill 5 civilians in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 4/11/17
- "IS kills seven, wounds three civilians in shelling north of Mosul," Iraqi News, 4/11/17
- “Islamic State evacuate Mosul’s Old City civilians as battles with security heighten,” Iraqi News, 4/11/17

New Sabah, “Joint forces attack 3 defensive headquarters of Daash near the Nouri Mosque and the Hadbaa Lighthouse,” 4/11/17

Press TV, "Iraqi CTS forces retake two more neighborhoods in western Mosul," 4/10/17

Shafaaq News, “Iraqi forces begin to storm the old area of Mosul after a 19 day pause,” 4/11/17
- “Residents: armed men wearing military uniforms steal car tires from a market in Mosul,” 4/11/17

Sputnik, "Iraqi Special Forces Liberate Matahin District of Mosul From Daesh Militants," 4/9/17

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 10 April 2017,” 4/10/17

Voice of America, “Bombardment in Iraq’s Mosul Takes Heavy Toll on Civilians,” 4/11/17

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces push further in western Mosul amid heavy clashes with IS," 4/11/17


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