Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 65, Dec 20, 2016


There was fighting in east Mosul but no news of any advances. The Islamic State fired mortars into three neighborhoods, and launched two suicide bombers who were killed. Around 250 homes in the Bakr neighborhood have been abandoned due to the constant shelling. The Iraqi forces (ISF) were also firing artillery at south Mosul. For the second day Ghazlani was hit. The southern front has been stalled for almost a month and a half now, and this artillery fire was one of the first signs of life. Al Sumaria also reported that families in the western half of the city were afraid that IS groups were abducting young boys to force them into service. The insurgents are suffering heavy losses in the fighting, so they may be enforcing a kind of draft on the population to bring in more fighters.

The Associated Press interviewed members of the Golden Division about how the battle for Mosul was going. Soldiers said in previous battles the Islamic State fortified specific areas. That was not so in Mosul. There IS has set up small units to cover areas who use tunnels and routes through houses to attack the Iraqi forces who move through neighborhoods in columns of vehicles, and then scurry off to another position. These fire and maneuver tactics have been able to hold up the ISF. The fighting has also been costly. A medic interviewed said that on average he was seeing 18 ISF casualties per day just in his sector. It is these losses that are worrying. The Golden Division is doing almost all of the fighting in east Mosul and if it continues to suffer heavy losses it could debilitate the force. Part of the 9th Division is the only other unit in the city in combat. South Mosul is supposed to be attacked soon, but it appears to be still a work in progress.

The insurgents also launched attacks in the south and west, and more of their dirty work was discovered. 2 car bombs were destroyed in the Aub Saif area in the south, and another town was attacked. The Tal Afar airport in the west was assaulted for a second day in a row. In the Hamam al-Alil area to the south of the Mosul another mass grave was found with around ten bodies in it. Before the area fell to the Iraqi forces, the militants took hundreds of people to the area, and executed a large number of men. Many more victims are likely to be discovered.

The Qayara oil fields south of Mosul were set ablaze by the retreating insurgents. The North Oil Company has been able to put out 41 wells so far, but there were still others burning. This is causing huge clouds of toxic fumes to spread over the area for two months now causing unknown environmental and human damage. 

The number of displaced has passed the 100,000 mark. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) had 106,692 people registered so far. Each week around 10,000 people are fleeing their homes, and almost all of these are from the Mosul district. Still more are not signed up with the government or aid agencies and are moving within Mosul itself. This situation is only getting worse with only a very few returning so far.

SOURCES

Al Alam, "Iraqi Forces Discover another Mass Grave in Mosul," 12/20/16

Face Iraq, "Federal police chief announced destroying two car bombs south of Mosul and shipment of aid to Hamdaniya Hospital," 12/20/16

Al Forat, “Ninewa we are coming operaitons command: continue clearing roads and buildings of explosives,” 12/20/16

George, Susannah, “Fight for a Mosul district shows Iraqis’ slow, painful slog,” 12/19/16

International Organization for Migration, “Over 106,000 iraqis Displaced by Mosul Operations: Kuwait Donates USD 4 Million in Aid,” 12/20/16

Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul, Dec. 20, 2106,” 12/20/16

Rudaw, “Iraqi and Hashd forces repel ISIS attacks west and south of Mosul,” 12/20/16

Shafaq News, "Nineveh police kill suicide bomber tried to sneak into Gogjali," 12/20/16

Al Sumaria, “’Black detachments’ worry the people of Mosul after the disappearance of boys and teenagers in the right coast,” 12/20/16

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: Flash Update – 19 December 2016,” 12/20/16



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