Sunday, December 25, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 69, Dec 24, 2016


There was some movement on the eastern and western fronts. The Iraqi forces (ISF) freed two towns in the east, while the Hashd liberated a village in the west. The Ghazlani base in southern Mosul continued to be shelled as well. Some Iraqi papers claimed this showed that the Mosul campaign was back in action, but as of now this appeared to be more like minor clearing operations. Otherwise, the Golden Division was removing IEDs from the Zuhur neighborhood in east Mosul, and the Hashd was still working on securing the roads around Tal Afar. Members of Kataib Hezbollah and the Imam Ali Brigades said that bad weather was slowing their operations. A bigger factor was that they are in a holding position around Tal Afar because the army and police have not organized any forces to take the town itself.  

The Iraqi forces continued to plan for the next phase of the operation. They are being reinforced in the east. That included U.S. forces moving up towards the front. American Special Forces have been advising the ISF and calling in air strikes. U.S. apache helicopters and artillery have been supporting the advance as well, along with other Coalition air forces. In one day for instance, a reporter from Foreign Policy noted there were 43 planes from 9 countries over Mosul carrying out various missions from air strikes to jamming communications to re-fueling.

The Islamic State continued to force people from their homes in east Mosul. Al Alam reported that around 250 families were told to leave the Jazir area. IS has been trying to get people to follow their retreat to be used as human shields, while converting the abandoned buildings into firing positions.

On a positive note, a Christmas mass was held in the town of Bartella for the first time in two years. The town was taken by the Islamic State in 2014 and freed in October 2016. Unfortunately the town remains mostly abandoned and destroyed. Almost all the people that attended the service travelled there from Kurdistan where they have been staying since the insurgents swept through the area.

SOURCES

Al Alam, "Bombings, Mortar Attacks Claim 10 Lives Across Iraq," 12/24/16

Face Iraq, “Sources: US ground forces and Apache helicopters in northern Mosul front with the resumption of fighting,” 12/24/16

Al Forat, "Nineveh Operaions: Progress on northern axis and control of road south of Tal Afar to Sinjar, west Mosul,' 12/24/16

Al Maalomah, “Counter-terrorism forces destroying explosives left by Daesh criminals in east Mosul,” 12/24/16
- “Hezbollah Brigades and Imam Ali Brigade reveal reasons for the slowdown of operation on the western axis,” 12/24/16

MacDiarmid, Campbell, “The Battle to Retake Mosul Is Stalemated,” Foreign Policy, 12/22/16

Rudaw, “Christian town east of Mosul celebrates first Christmas post-ISIS,” 12/24/16

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