Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Islamic State Of Iraq Launches Battle of Ninewa In Mosul

(Washington Post)
The day after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) launched a raid upon Salahaddin’s Samarra on June 5, 2014 it began a similar attack upon Mosul in Ninewa that started on June 6 and continues to the present. ISIS has dubbed it the "Battle of Ninewa". This time it wasn’t clear whether fighters entered the city from the outside as happened in Samarra or whether they were already in Mosul. That’s because there were initially clashes with the Iraqi security forces in so many different districts. Those included Tamouz, Masharaf, Al-Islah Al-Zirai in the west, Ghazlani in the south, and Zahra and Sumer in the east and southeast. The south was where five suicide bombers attempted to blow themselves up in an arms depot. Mortar fire also hit Zahra, Rashidiya and Harikhan in the north and sections of the west. Fighting lasted for most of the day, and left behind a huge number of casualties. Up to 14 police, 10 soldiers, and 70 civilians were killed, along with 29 police, 14 soldiers, and 23 civilians being wounded. ISIS lost 105 of its men and 20 vehicles. It seemed like the city had finally been secured, but then on June 7 there were renewed clashes resulting in 21 police and 37 insurgents being killed in the western section of the city. Reinforcements arrived from Baghdad, Tal Afar and Hermat, and the fighting involved artillery and army air strikes that led to a large number of people being displaced from Zahra, Arabia, and other areas. The insurgents were able to cut the power to the drinking water system in that area as well. By June 8 most of the fighting seemed to be in the western and eastern sections of Mosul with the Iraqi forces launching an operation to clear the former. The Iraqi press reported 30 ISIS fighters and 21 civilians amongst the dead that day. On June 9 the situation appeared more fluid. Another 37 ISIS members were killed, but the group was also able to take control of a Federal Police base in the western section of Mosul, and attacked a hotel that was being used as a temporary command post with a suicide truck bomb that killed 2 police, 1 soldier, and wounded 15 others. In response local defense committees were called for to protect the neighborhoods, and the ISF was able to regain control of some neighborhoods as well. Thousands more people were displaced as the clashes continued, and 2600 students at the University of Mosul were evacuated. Then later in the day ISIS appeared to make a dramatic advance in the city. They seized control of the city's airport, the provincial council building, a Federal Police headquarters, and most of the western district, while the army was said to have withdrawn from certain areas because it was running low on supplies. Governor Atheel Nujafi was actually inside the provincial building during the assault by insurgents but was able to escape. By today June 10 the security forces had collapsed and ISIS was declaring victory over the city having freed hundreds of prisoners from Badush prison, captured dozens of vehicles from the ISF, hundreds of weapons, and now appears to be heading back to Salahadin for more fighting. In its wake, the International Organization of Migration reported up to 500,000 people had fled the Mosul area. The poor showing by the security forces in the city may be due to their low morale. Early in the year it was reported that many of the police were receiving only parts or none of their salaries for months because ISIS was stealing their pay. The situation was so bad south of the city that in March the Ninewa Operations Command set up special flights from Mosul to Baghdad for its personnel who lived in the capital to commute there because the highway between the two cities was too insecure. Having not received their pay for perhaps months and feeling besieged within Mosul were the likely cause of the quick collapse by the army and police.

Destroyed checkpoint overrun by ISIS in Mosul June 6 (via LiveLeak)
ISIS using bulldozers to remove concrete roadblocks at a checkpoint June 7 (Islamic State Media)

Destroyed police truck June 7 (Islamic State Media)

ISIS fighter shooting an RPG June 7 (Islamic State Media)

ISIS firing heavy machine gun from truck June 7 (Islamic State Media)

Army artillery firing on Mosul June 7 (Al Mada)
Captured vehicles from the Iraqi security forces June 10 (Islamic State Media)
ISIS claiming victory over Mosul (Islamic State Media)

Video from inside Mosul

Mosul is the only urban center that the Islamic State was able to hold during and after the Surge. It is especially important to ISIS because it serves as the economic hub of its vast criminal rings, which provides a huge amount of financing for its operations. It charges fees on the importation of foreign goods into the province, extorts money from businesses, and kidnaps people for ransom. Because of its strong presence there many of the fighters it used in the attack could have already been within the city unlike in the Samarra case where it drove in from neighboring Diyala province.

This is yet another example of how emboldened the Islamic State has become. In May 2013 the insurgents attempted an assault upon Ramadi in Anbar. In the following months it attempted similar operations in that province. At the beginning of 2014 it seized control of much of Anbar, and stretched out to places like Sulaiman Bek in Salahaddin and Buhriz in Diyala where it temporarily held sway. It has continued to escalate its operations with Samarra and now Mosul in June. Its ultimate goal is to retake the territory it lost during the Surge, which was outlined in its July 2013 Soldiers’ Harvest campaign. The first part of that plan was to relentlessly attack the security forces to kill and intimidate them so that the Islamic State could move into areas and take control of them. This started in rural sections of Iraq such as the desert regions of Anbar and the Hamrin Mountains that stretch across Diyala and Salahaddin. Now ISIS is moving into urban areas. It is hoping that after it has seized control of some cities and towns in Anbar it can expand its influence into the rest of central Iraq and surround Baghdad before entering the capital itself. Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi originally outlined this in his Baghdad Belts strategy. Since it worked when the Americans had over 100,000 troops in the country the current leadership believes that it can repeat that success now that the U.S. has withdrawn and it is dealing with the far less competent and armed Iraqi forces. That all means similar attacks are going to become more and more common throughout this year.


Agence France Presse, “Jihadists seize hostages on Iraqi campus sparking battle,” 6/7/14

Alsumaria, "Detonated a truck bomb on Kawir bridge northeast of Mosul," 6/6/14
- "Elements of "Daash" control area east of Tikrit and displaced dozens of families," 6/10/14
- "Killed 70 people, the fall of mortars east and west of Mosul," 6/6/14

Buratha News, “Access security force from Baghdad to Mosul in preparation for the liberalization of air areas west of the city,” 6/7/14
- ""Daash" terrorists control the headquarters of the Third Battalion of the Charge of Knights Brigade west of Mosul after three days of surrounding it," 6/9/14
- "Evacuation of 2600 students from their dormitories at the University of Mosul and the postponement of exams," 6/9/14
- "The formation of local committees for the defense of Mosul along with the police and army in Mosul," 6/9/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 15 soldiers and police in a suicide bombing on a temporary headquarters of Army west of Mosul," 6/9/14

Al Forat, "Thousands of people displaced of their houses in Mosul," 6/8/14

Independent Press Agency, “Areas west of Mosul bombing by aircraft,” 6/7/14

Iraq Times, “An exodus of thousands of families from four neighborhoods in Mosul,” 6/7/14
- "News of the fall of Mosul airport by elements of Daash," 6/9/14
- "News of the withdrawal of terrorist groups from western Mosul," 6/10/14
- "Unconfirmed reports of the fall of the Nineveh province building by terrorists," 6/10/14

Al Jazeera, "Deadly fighting breaks out in Iraq's Mosul," 6/6/14

Al Mada, "Daash controls the Nineveh province building and the right side of the city fully," 6/10/14

National Iraqi News Agency, "30 elements of ISIS killed in Mosul," 6/8/14
- "37 elements of ISIS killed in Mosul," 6/9/14
- “(75) Elements of the ISIS, including Syrians and Yemenis killed in Mosul,” 6/6/14
- "BREAKING NEWS. 7 soldiers killed and three others wounded including Regiment commander in clashes west of Mosul," 6/6/14
- "BREAKING NEWS. 24 military troops, killed and wounded including an officer in armed clashes south of Mosul," 6/6/14
- "BREAKING NEWS. 30, policemen including commander of a regiment, and six officers killed and wounded in clashes with /Daash/ west of Mosul," 6/6/14
- "Breaking News. ..A military operation to cleanse the western regions of al-Mosul from elements of the ISIS started," 6/8/14
- “BREAKING NEWS. Air strikes start on western Mosul neighborhoods,” 6/7/14
- "BREAKING NEWS Armed clashes in central and northern Ramadi," 5/18/13
- "BREAKING NEWS. Six policemen, including Deputy Chief of Police in an armed attack west of Mosul," 6/6/14
- “Nineveh operations chief vows to kill elements of /ISIS/ in a large-scale operation start within hours,” 6/7/14
- “School building in central Mosul, receives tens of displaced families coming from the west side of the city,” 6/7/14
- "Security forces regain control of al-Mosul hotel after the expulsion of elements of the ISIS," 6/8/14 
- "Two members of the ISIS killed, two car bombs dismantled in Mosul," 6/8/14

Al Rafidayn, “”Daash” cut the electricity stopping main pump for drinking water west of Mosul,” 6/7/14
- "Maliki's office agrees to conduct flights to transport security personnel in Mosul," 3/25/14

Al Rayy, "Renewed clashes between "Daash" and the army in Mosul," 6/6/14
- "Wounding six civilians, including women and children in separate incidents in Mosul," 6/6/14

Al-Sinjary, Ziad, “Insurgents fight Iraqi forces in city of Mosul,” Reuters, 6/6/14
- "Insurgents in Iraq overrun Mosul provincial government headquarters, " 6/9/14

Sly, Liz and Ramdan, Ahmed, "Insurgents seize Iraqi city of Mosul as troops flee," Washington Post, 6/10/14

Tawfeeq, Mohammed, Karadsheh, Jomana and Smith-Spark, Laura, "Iraqi PM calls for state of emergency after gunmen storm Mosul city," CNN, 6/10/14

Xinhua, "46 killed, 103 wounded in violence in northern Iraq," 6/6/14

Yacoub, Sameer, "Bombs Against Kurds, Other Attacks Kill 33," Associated Press, 6/9/14


Anonymous said...

i was supposed to see my family that i havent seen in seven years in two days and now i cant go

Joel Wing said...

sorry to hear northern Iraq is in chaos right now

Anonymous said...

As usual great post, timing and information. I have some questions: What happen with the Pesmerghas, are going to be deployed to Mosul? What about Izzat Ibrahim Al Douri/Nasqanbandi group, is he cooperating with ISIL? The Kurdish side of Mosul city is under ISIL control too? Where is the Golden Brigade, Maliki is going to send them his league of righteous and Hezbollah task force?

Joel Wing said...

The peshmerga are to the north and east of Mosul. They have not received any orders to move into Mosul yet. They have deployed to two of the disputed areas of Diyala, and a planned joint op with the Army Aviation failed in Hawija today.

The Golden Brigade is partly deployed to Anbar and the rest is in Baghdad I believed. That part of the unit was sent to Samarra during that raid. Don't know about deployment now.

Appears that Naqshibandi is cooperating with ISIS in some of the new territory it has gained. This is happened while the two were in a bloody dispute and getting into gunfights every couple weeks in Diyala and Salahaddin. The Baathists appear to have a very rough relationship with the much larger and powerful ISIS and are trying to stay independent.