Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day Thirty, Nov 15, 2016


With the southwest advance renewed by the Hashd new towns were liberated. Three new towns were freed, and another attacked.

The Golden Division and army were still pushing into Mosul itself and opened a new front as well. The Iraqi forces (ISF) not only attacked two neighborhoods in the west, but hit Hadbaa in the north as well. One of those areas, Bakr however, had been assaulted two times before. Reaching the north is an important event in the campaign. The Golden Division was the first to reach the outskirts of Mosul and decided to push in alone initially. It paid a heavy toll without other units being able to support it and protect its flanks and rear. Elements of the 9th Division that were caught up in the southeast eventually shifted to the east to open their own front. Now the north is being engaged. Other ISF units should be reaching the south aiming at the Mosul airport soon. That will hopefully stretch the Islamic State, which only has a few thousand fighters to defend the whole city, to the breaking point eventually.

Finish analyst Petri Makela wrote an article about the tactics IS is using in the fight. The militants built several rings of defensive lines around Mosul. The outer towns had minimal defenses with IEDs, car bombs, anti tank missiles, and snipers. When Mosul was reached the Golden Division initially sent in columns of Humvees. They were funneled into specific areas where IS set up ambushes. Armor units eventually came to support the Golden Division, but they have been caught up in the same areas. As one soldier told Reuters his armored unit was not trained for urban warfare and the fighting was overwhelming. With all the soldiers buttoned up inside their vehicles driving down streets in columns they were easy targets for these kill zones and fast moving suicide car bombs, which come at the units so quickly and in heavily armored vehicles they cannot always be destroyed before they hit their target. The Islamic State’s extensive tunnel works has also allowed it to re-infiltrate areas, which is why ISF units are already going through neighborhoods multiple times. Despite all that the Iraqi forces are making progress, just at a heavy cost.

There were more executions within Mosul. 21 civilians were reportedly killed over the last several days within the city on charges of collaborating with the government. The Washington Post also talked with a survivor of the killings in Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul before it was liberated. The man talked about how IS took a group of around 90 men, made the kneel down, and then shot them. Up to 100 bodies have been found in the town in a mass grave.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, “200 tribal fighters control liberated areas southeast of Mosul,” Iraqi News, 11/15/16
- "Badr Organization liberates 2 villages in western axis of Nineveh," Iraqi News, 11/15/16
- "Iraqi forces storm into 3 new neighborhoods in Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/15/16

Evans, Dominic and Davison, John, "Islamic State kills civilians in Mosul to deter support for army," Reuters, 11/15/16

Al Forat, "People crowd frees village of Mareshah west of Mosul," 11/15/16

Makela, Petri, “Tactical Lessons From Mosul – Infantry Skills Matter,” The Medium, 11/15/16

Morris, Loveday, “’I thought, this is it: One man’s escape from an Islamic State mass execution,” Washington Post, 11/15/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces push slowly into Mosul to seize more districts," 11/12/16


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