The Iraqi forces (ISF) reported more progress on November 27. The Golden Division entered Barid and freed Falah, both new neighborhoods in eastern Mosul.
In comparison, on November 28 the division was mostly fighting over areas it had gone through before. Two new neighborhoods were declared liberated, but one of them Qahira, had been cleared before. There was also fighting in Qadisiya, Zuhur, and Salam all of which were freed previously, along with Nassir, Mufti, Younis Sabawi, and Palestine.
There was little movement on the other fronts. The 9th Division freed Kissar to the southeast. The Federal Police in the southwest were still clearing buildings and roads.
The slow progress in the north and south, and the heavy fighting in the east is making the military re-think its plans for taking Mosul. The Golden Division is just 3 km from the Tigris River, and has taken the brunt of the fighting. The 16th Division is 10 km from Mosul in the north and has largely stopped advancing. It did send a brigade to assist in eastern Mosul. Part of the 9th Division is 2.5 km from south Mosul, while other elements of the division are with the Golden Division inside the city. An officer in the 9th said that it was nearly exhausted from all the fighting that it had gone through so far. With two fronts stalled and mounting military and civilian casualties there is lots of pressure to reconsider the campaign plan. That has already happened before. Originally, there were six separate thrusts towards Mosul. At the start of November that was reduced to just three and the shifting of some forces around. Similar modifications may be coming soon.
Reuters reported that the Islamic State was arresting shop owners accused of raising their prices. There have been several stories of major shortages affecting the city’s population, and the militants appear to be afraid that may cause unrest, which is leading to the new crackdown on businesses.
The Christian Science Monitor talked with a few Christians who were displaced from Bartella, which was freed at the start of the Mosul campaign. The Islamic State swept through the town in August 2014. One family said that they tried to escape to Kurdistan, but were stopped at a checkpoint and imprisoned. There they were told to convert to Islam, and when they eventually agreed they were let go. At the two prisons they were held at they reported constant beatings and an execution. Another family was tortured and beaten for not knowing their prayers and for not showing up often enough to the mosque. Almost all of the Christians in the areas of Ninewa seized by the Islamic State were driven off two years ago. Now their homes areas are being liberated, and the big question will be how many are willing to go back.
For some reason Reuters decided to write an entire article based upon a conversation with Khamis Khanjar. He is a Dubai based businessman who was one of the major financiers of the Iraqiya party in 2010. Since then he has established his own list and hopes to become a new Sunni leader in the provincial and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2017 and 2018 respectively. Khanjar warned that if the Hashd were to entire Mosul they could massacre and abuse the populace. He then said that the Nujafi’s Hashd al-Watani and the army should be leading the campaign. So far the Hashd are far away from Mosul in the west, surrounding the town of Tal Afar. The Hashd al-Watani on the other hand have done little, and will likely be kept out of the fight because of the Nujafis bad relations with Baghdad and their ties to Turkey, which has been deeply critical and confrontational during the entire operation.
Finally the number of displaced took another jump. For several days the displaced however around 68,000, but that went up to 75,720 according to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees. Almost all of those, roughly 72,000 are from the Mosul district. The U.N. said more people are fleeing the city itself with some 4,000 leaving just on November 24. 2,031 Iraqis also fled to Syria since the start of the campaign. After these people reach the Iraqi forces they have to be vetted. There are lots of complaints about how long civilians can be held before they are cleared or arrested, along with lots of accusations of false claims about family members being IS members or sympathizers. This must be done, but the sheer size of the task is daunting along with the inconsistencies of the process means it will always be long and imperfect.
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