Monday, October 31, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day Fourteen, Oct 30, 2016


The joint Iraqi forces were pushing in on Mosul from all sides on October 30. The Hashd who are now moving from the south towards Tal Afar west of Mosul made some more conspiratorial accusations against the U.S., while threatening to go to Syria after Mosul was liberated. Ex-Ninewa Governor Atheel Nujafi also gave his thoughts on the campaign.

The Iraqi army, Peshmerga and Hashd all took towns on October 30. The 9th Division took Ali Rash in the east, the Peshmerga two towns, and the Hashd six as well in the southwest. The Hashd recently joined the fray headings towards Tal Afar to the west of Mosul. An Iraqi security official told Reuters that the Islamic State recently reinforced that town with more fighters. The spokesman for Asaib Ahl Al-Haq accused the U.S. of trying to hinder their operations by scrambling their communications. The pro-Iranian Hashd groups often make these types of comments including ones about the Americans supporting the Islamic State, so this was nothing new. Overall, most of the other joint forces ere consolidating the front before they renewed their push on Mosul.

The Hashd and an Iraqi officials have talked about continuing their fight into Syria. National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayad said that the wars in Iraq and Syria were one in the same and Iraqi forces may have to enter the latter to fight IS. The next day one of the spokesman for the Hashd, Ahmed al-Assadi said Iraqis would go to Syria to help President Assad against the Islamists. There are thousands of Iraqis already fighting in Syria for various armed groups organized and funded by Iran. If Iraqi forces were to officially cross the border into its neighbor’s territory that would be a huge escalation, but these comments appear to be just talk for now, although Fayad’s was the first to come from a government official.

Several months ago the Iraqi army captured the Qayara air base south of Mosul. U.S. engineers set to work on the facility immediately, and in the first week of the campaign it was re-opened. On October 30 the first Iraqi air force transport plane landed at the field. This will be a huge help to the Iraqi forces as logistics is still one of their weak points.

Ex-Ninewa governor Atheel Nujafi made some comments about the on going battle for Mosul and what he thought of the future of the province. He said the Hashd and Turkish Workers’ Party (PKK) needed to stay out of the city otherwise there would be trouble. He went on to say that he understood why sections of the province wanted to join Kurdistan, and that Ninewa should become a federal region after IS was expelled. Nujafi is aligned with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Turkey, and lives in Kurdistan, which is why he supported the Kurds annexing the disputed areas of Ninewa and opposed the PKK. He is also an opponent of the Baghdad government, and that is why he wanted Ninewa to become a region. Nujafi was hoping to use the Mosul campaign as a way to make a political comeback, and he has his own armed force the Hashd al-Watani backed by the KDP and Ankara. They have not taken part in the campaign however. He also has an arrest warrant out for him, which means he cannot safely leave Kurdish controlled areas where central government warrants are not usually served without the threat of being arrested. Together that means he’s likely to have little influence on the future of Ninewa.

SOURCES

Buratha News, “Military spokesman for the League of the Righteous: American forces trying to block western Mosul military operations,” 10/30/16

Face Iraq, “Falah al-Fayad: After the battle of Mosul, we may have to enter areas of Syria to hunt down Daesh,” 10/29/16
- “Media cell announced the landing of a C-130 air cargo plane for the first time at Qayyarah base since its liberation,” 10/30/16

Iraq News Network, “Najafi: 80% of the people of Mosul are demanding Nineveh province be saved from the popular crowd crimes and the sectarian Baghdad government,” 10/30/16

Kalin, Stephen and Georgy, Michael, "Iraqi Shi'ite commander says Mosul battle 'no picnic' as troops advance," Reuters, 10/30/16

Al Maalomah, "Popular crowd freed the village of Al Amarena southwest of Mosul," 10/30/16

Rudaw, “Iraqi Shiite militia: after Mosul we’ll go to Syria to fight for Assad,” 10/30/16

Al Sumaria, "Badr announces the freeing of five villages west of Mosul," 10/30/16


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