Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 47, Dec 2, 2016


On December 1 no advances were reported in the Mosul campaign, but the Iraqi forces (ISF) were back at it on December 2. Zuhur in east Mosul was declared freed for the third time, but once again it appeared that fighting was still going on there. The Islamic State counterattacked in Qadisiya, while the ISF moved into Meshraq, the 47th neighborhood of the city entered so far.

Front line commanders tried to lobby to change the tactics for taking Mosul, but Abadi and his military advisers denied them. Before the assault on the city began flyers were dropped telling residents to stay in their homes. This was done because the government and aid agencies lacked the means to take care of a mass exodus of people out of Mosul. What has happened is that the civilians have gotten in the way of the fighting. The Islamic State has hid amongst them, while the ISF has been greatly restrained in using its heavy firepower when there are so many citizens in the way. Officers went to Baghdad asking for them to be allowed to tell people to evacuate the battle zones, but the prime minister rejected their plea. That means the advance will continue at its deliberate pace.

In the west the Hashd announced that they had surrounded Tal Afar. They are now waiting for ISF forces from the north to shift to the town. One of those units will be the 92nd Brigade, 15th Division. Many of the soldiers are said to be Shiites driven out of the town by the insurgency. The commander of the 15th Division General Emad Silawi said that the Hashd might follow into the town, which could set off problems as Turkey and the Iraqi Turkmen Front have both warned against those forces going into Tal Afar claiming they will set off a sectarian conflict. Baghdad has an agreement with Ankara negotiated by the Americans to keep the Hashd out.

In the south, an officer from the 9th Division commented on how poorly the liberated areas are being held. He said that the police units that moved in behind the army were such lackluster quality that they could only do guard duty. He went on to say that army reinforcements had to be called up from Baghdad to help with holding the territory.

The director of the International Red Cross just returned from a trip to Iraq and was worried about the length of the campaign. He told the press that Mosul could take months to clear. That could lead to a humanitarian disaster, and a stretching of resources. Already he said there are some days when more than 100 are wounded from the fighting. The hospitals in Irbil are already overflowing with these casualties. Winter weather with freezing temperatures and rain are also starting in Iraq flooding displaced camps. These problems will only get worse the longer the operation lasts.

Finally, Reuters talked with a man who was displaced from Bashiqa that was recently freed. He like many others would like to go home but the town and the surrounding area is strewn with IEDs and mine fields. A member of the Mines Advisory Group said that it found more then 350 IEDs in just one town outside Bashiqa. While a few thousand people have gone back to their homes since the Mosul operation started almost all of those have been in the Nimrod district or eastern Mosul. Otherwise the other areas appear to be unsafe due to unexploded ordinance. It might take months to clear all of these areas since such a large swath of territory has been liberated in Ninewa.

SOURCES

Bas News, "Mosul: Iraqi Forces Liberate Two Other Neighborhoods," 12/2/16

Buratha News, "Imam Brigade declared encirclement of Tal Afar west Nineveh," 12/2/16

Davison, John, “Iraqis desperate to return to homes rigged with bombs by Islamic State,” Reuters, 12/2/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Nov. 29, 2016," 11/29/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

Nebehay, Stephanie, “Battle for Iraq’s Mosul could take months: ICRC,” Reuters, 12/2/16

Rasheed, Ahmed and Evans, Dominic, “Exclusive: Iraqi commanders examined strategy shift to avert Mosul war of attrition,” 12/2/16

Rohan, Brian, “Empowered Shiite Militias Poised to Dominate Key Iraq Town,” Associated Press, 12/2/16

Rudaw, "Heavy fighting under cloudy skies in Mosul," 12/2/16
- "Iraqi army edges closer to Tigris River in Mosul; retakes new neighborhood," 11/29/16


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