There was movement on the northern front for the first time since the start of the month. The Iraqi forces (ISF) cleared the Police Academy and vehicle registration directorate building north of Mosul. The ISF had not done anything in that sector since December 5 when three villages were freed. Northern forces were supposed to organize to take the town of Tal Afar in the west and attack the northern neighborhoods of Mosul in November, but have been stalled. Some units have been shifted to east Mosul instead in recent weeks.
The Iraqi air force dropped more flyers over Mosul. This was a mix of official statements by the government and letters written by citizens. The official ones told people to be patient and that victory was close. The others were personal letters of support for the residents of the city. The ISF has leafleted over Mosul several times before.
Iraqi commanders continue to give contradictory statements about the state of the campaign. General Abdul al-Assadi from the Golden Division told the media that the ISF was planning for a new push to free the rest of eastern Mosul. The commander of Iraqi ground forces on the other hand, General Riyadh Tawfiq claimed there was no pause, but then said in a few days there would be new operations. Due to stiff Islamic State resistance, exhaustion, casualties, lack of supporting troops, police, and Hashd to hold areas freed, and apparent reluctance by some officers to move forward, all fronts have largely halted although fighting continues.
The New York Times featured an article about the future for Christians in Ninewa. Several Christian towns such as Qaraqosh and Bartella have been freed during the campaign, but the piece questioned how many people would return to them. Christian militias who secured some of those areas said they were still afraid of Islamic State attacks, and most villages were destroyed. Since 2003 the Christian population of Iraq has been devastated due to violence. IS’s take over of most of Ninewa in 2014 was just the latest time they were targeted and forced to flee their homes. Many have resettled in other parts of the country or left Iraq overall and those trends only look to be continuing.
Finally the Irbil health directorate provided new information on casualties in Iraq. Many of the wounded from the fighting in east Mosul are sent to that city’s health facilities. With the new data a total of 4,153 people have been killed in Ninewa since the start of the Mosul campaign on October 17, and 7,908 wounded. Roughly 65% of the dead were the result of Islamic State executions, 2,717. When the operation started, the group was forcing people from southern villages to retreat with them towards Mosul to be used as human shields. Later the group separated the men, especially former members of the security forces and carried out mass shootings. Another 247 people have lost their lives and 156 wounded in Coalition air strikes. The real figures are higher due to government censorship and lack of access to the frontlines and areas held by the Islamic State.
Mosul Campaign Casualties 10/17/16-12/22/16
1 U.S. Sailor, 1 Hashd al-Watani, 2 Kurd CT, 4 ISF, 11 Police, 65 Peshmerga, 82 Hashd, 189 Soldiers, 3,798 Civilians
2 Hashd al-Watani, 4 Police, 59 Hashd, 253 Peshmerga, 353 ISF, 446 Soldiers, 6,791 Civilians
2,717 Executed by the Islamic State
247 civilians killed, 156 wounded by Coalition air strikes
Kalin, Stephen, “U.S. forces embedding more to help Iraqis retake Mosul – commander,” Reuters, 12/23/16
Al Maalomah, "Foiled suicide attack In Qayyarah," 12/23/16
- "Freed the Police Academy and Directorate of Vehicle Registration north of Mosul," 12/24/16
- "Iraqi aircraft destroyed car bomb targeting federal police southwest of Mosul," 12/23/16
NINA, “Commander of the anti-terrorism device: The next few days will witness the announcement of the liberation of left coast entirely,” 12/22/16
- “Commander of the ground troops confirms from Karbala: No stop of military operations in Mosul,” 12/22/16
Ponomarev, Sergey and Arango, Tim, “For Liberated Iraqi Christians, Still a Bleak Christmas,” New York Times, 12/23/16
Rudaw, “Iraqis send four million letters of love and support to people of Mosul,” 12/23/16
- “UPDATED: Tens of civilians killed in triple ISIS car bomb east of Mosul,” 12/22/16
Sotaliraq, "Killing and wounding 18 civilians shelled by Daesh east Mosul," 12/23/16
- "Security forces advancing on police academy north of Mosul," 12/23/16