The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were closing in on the last neighborhoods held by the Islamic State in Mosul. The July 17, Iqtisadin, and Rifai areas were all liberated during the day. The July 17 was said to have been freed on May 13, Iqtisadin on May 14, and Rifai on May 15. There was fighting on going in Siha, Najar, Zinjali, Bab al-Tob, Mekawi and Bab al-Jadid. The militants only hold roughly 10% of the city. The ISF routinely claim it has taken areas that are still contested or sometimes before they even arrive. The battle for the city is nearly over, and these places will eventually fall. The Iraqis can’t help themselves however from overstating their progress. That is an unfortunate result of the victory narrative the government has pushed since 2014.
For weeks, the police claimed they were pushing on the Grand Mosque in the Old City district of west Mosul where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in 2014. The Joint Operations was now changing its tune explaining why the area had not been seized yet. The narrow streets prevented military vehicles from traversing them, and the dense layout of houses, and the use of human shields all complicated the fight there. The district was reached in March, and the police have been stuck there ever since. Eventually the plan changed where the Interior Ministry forces were simply holding down the insurgents, while the Golden Division moved up the perimeter. That ran into some difficulties as well, leading to a new attack from the north, which caught the Islamic State by surprise and led to the current quick advance through the city. Again, Iraqi propaganda rarely admitted to the situation in the Old City, and instead constantly claimed progress when little was being made.
The fourth day of the Hashd offensive in western Ninewa took a pause. The forces were mostly cleaning up the towns they seized. Kurdish complaints about the Hashd seizing Yazidi villages in Sinjar might have also played a role. Prime Minister Haider Abadi got involved saying a delegation would be sent to Irbil to work out the differences. Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is struggling to regain political control of Sinjar dealing with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PKK) and Yazidis who no longer want to remain under Kurdish hegemony. Having the Hashd enter the equation is just causing the KDP more headaches.
People continue to flow out of west Mosul due to the fighting. The Ninewa Operations Command announced that a bridge was built from the western to eastern section in the north to allow people to escape. The United Nations reported from May 14-16 around 25,000 people arrived at Hamam al-Alil the screening center for displaced (IDPs). It also noted that many people who had moved to east Mosul were now leaving and going to camps in Kurdistan because of the lack of jobs in the city. From May 12-14 3,000 IDPs arrived in those facilities. The government is about to open a new IDP camp in Hamam al-Alil. There are currently 326,000 displaced in camps in Ninewa and Kurdistan, 18,000 in northern Syria, and an unknown amount camping in Hamam al-Alil and within Mosul itself.
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Baghdad Post, “Exclusive: Parts regained from ISIS in Mosul explained on map,” 5/17/17
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