Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day Thirty-Three, Nov 18, 2016


The Golden Division was caught up fighting in eastern Mosul. Tahrir was declared freed on November 17, but then the division said it was still trying to gain control of the entire area on the 18th. There were clashes in Qadisiyah as well, which was liberated on November 11. Combat inside the city has been very intense and difficult. The Iraqi forces (ISF) have been limited to armored columns that often get ambushed and then having to dismount and clear houses, the Islamic State re-infiltrating using tunnels dug underneath the city, and waves of civilians that make it difficult determining friend from foe. That has led the ISF to constantly going through the same neighborhoods again and again.

The southern and western fronts witnessed new progress. In the southeast the 9th Division took three towns in the Nimrod district. In the west the Hasdh captured two villages and moved to the south and west of Tal Afar. The ISF has yet to reach southern Mosul and the Hashd have not yet cut off the city from its routes to Syria. Those should happen by next week.

Farther south of Mosul outside of the town of Tal Adh Dhahab another mass grave with victims of the Islamic State was found. An eyewitness said that the militants took up to 40 people, mostly former members of the Iraqi Security Forces, and executed them.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that there were over 60,000 people displaced since the Mosul campaign started on October 17. Around 40,000 of those fled since the start of November.

There was fallout over comments Kurdish President Massoud Barzani made on November 16. Barzani was in Bashiqa, which had just been freed by the Peshmerga where he gave a speech saying that the Kurds would not withdraw from any of the areas that they had liberated. The next day Prime Minister Haidar Abadi’s office issued a statement that the agreement between Baghdad and Irbil was still in place, which had the Peshmerga pulling out of the areas that they freed during the Mosul campaign. Then on November 18 Barzani issued a clarification that the Arab press mistranslated his words, and that Kurdistan stood by its deal with Baghdad. Kurdish politicians and Peshmerga however have made it clear that all areas they took were part of the disputed areas that they want to annex, and they would not relinquish them. This dilemma will have to be dealt with after the liberation of the city along with many other political issues.

Finally, there has been a growing chorus of pro-Iranian Hashd notables who have stated that after Mosul they will march into Syria. The latest was Badr leader Hadi al-Amiri who said that President Bashar al-Assad had invited the Hashd into his country. Members of the National Alliance, the main Shiite list responded saying that the Hashd had no authority to act on its own without the approval of the Iraqi government, parliament and Armed Forces General Command. A member of the Supreme Council went on to say that Iraq respected the borders of its neighbors and would not interfere in their affairs. There are already thousands of Iraqis fighting in Syria organized by Iran, but they do not have official sanction. Various pro-Tehran Hashd commanders have been talking about a formal invasion of Syria, but this was the first time the political class spoke up against that idea.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “New suspected IS mass grave found near Mosul,” 11/18/16

AIN, "Freed village of Omar north of Nimrod," 11/18/16
- "Popular crowd encircling Tal Afar from the south and west," 11/18/16

Associated Press, "Iraqi forces advance cautiously into Mosul; 1 soldier killed," 11/18/16

Bas News, "Iraqi Forces Retake Two More Neighborhoods East of Mosul," 11/17/16

Al Mada, "Army frees village southwest of Mosul, raising Iraqi flag over it," 11/18/16
- “President Barzani of the Kurdistan region confirms the commitment to any agreement concluded about the presence of the Peshmerga in the liberated areas,” 11/18/16
- “Shiite forces critical of the leaders of the Popular Crowd who told papers they would go to Syria after battle to liberate Mosul,” 11/17/16

New Sabah, "A break in the fight against terrorism as Qadisiyah neighborhood in Mosul is completely freed," 11/11/16

NINA, “Al-Abadi Office: The agreement with the Region that includes the withdrawal of the Peshmerga from the areas that are liberated,” 11/17/16

Rudaw, "Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi says it encircles Tal Afar from two sides," 11/18/16

Shafaq News, "Urgent..violent clashes and shelling in the second Qadisiyah neighborhood east Mosul," 11/18/16

Al Sumaria, "Security forces liberated the village of Abraham north of Nimrod," 11/18/16

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “More support needed as Mosul displacement grows,” 11/18/16



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