Friday, January 6, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 81, Jan 5, 2017


The Wahda district in southeast Mosul was still contested. January 4 the 9th Division and Federal Police called the neighborhood freed in the morning. At the end of the day fighting was still going on, and the Salam Hospital in the district had not been taken. January 5 the Joint Operations Command said parts of Wahda had been liberated, but continued advances were being held up by snipers. The Federal Police were still 700 meters away from the hospital as well. Salam Hospital was originally taken by the 9th Division on December 6, but that was a trap set by the Islamic State and the Golden Division had to rescue the soldiers. On December 17 a new push on the facility was made, but that probably stopped when the entire Mosul campaign paused in the middle of the month. It still remains a target of the Iraqi forces (ISF).

January 5 Hadbaa and Kindi in the northeast were attacked. Hadbaa had allegedly been entered several times since November, but none of the stories looked to be true. On December 31 the ISF even claimed that the neighborhood had been freed, another exaggeration.

There was continued clashes in the southeast, and clearing in eastern Mosul and north of the city. The 9th Division, Federal Police and Rapid Reaction police were in Salam, Palestine, Shaimaa, Dumiz, and Sumer as they have been the last few days. Sumer was declared freed on January 3. The Golden Division was still clearing parts of eastern Mosul they’d liberated, mostly the industrial zone outside of Karama. The northern front was still removing IEDs and booby traps, which they have been doing since November, because they are no longer moving on Mosul.

General Talib Shaghati of the Golden Division declared 65-70% of east Mosul freed. He claimed 44 of 56 districts in the east had been taken. In the middle of December a member of the Ninewa council made a similar statement based upon 30 of 50 neighborhoods being freed. Going through all the previous reporting it looks like 50% of Mosul is currently occupied by the ISF with some of those areas still being contested.

Violence was reported throughout eastern Mosul and outside of it. Two car bombs hit Hadbaa killing 11, with two others being destroyed. Another vehicle bomb in Mithaq left 13 casualties. Five more were destroyed in the southeast. Mortar fire on Wahda left five dead. The Islamic State was also shelling Bakr, Alam, Muharibin, Zuhur, Wahda, and Mithaq with at least 17 fatalities and 13 injured. One photographer was wounded. The insurgents attacked the southern front. IS also released a video of it beheading one victim and drowning another inside the city.

There were more pieces on the Islamic State running into problems. One said that IS stopped paying it fighters, while General Shaghati told the press its leaders and families were fleeing the city. Similar claims have been made since the start of the Mosul campaign in October. So far there are no signs that this has affected the militants’ ability to resist.

Spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi held a press conference about the Hashd’s activities in western Tal Afar. The sixth stage of the liberation of the district was about to begin, but no details about what that entailed were given. The Hashd were also waiting for Prime Minister Haidar Ababi’s orders to enter Mosul. The Hashd have been in a holding pattern outside Tal Afar for weeks now. Baghdad made an agreement with Turkey for the army and police to take the town after Ankara’s repeated complaints and threats about what they would do if the Hashd were to do so. The ISF has shown no sign that they will move on the village however. The Hashd are also to stay out of Mosul out of fear of how that would be interpreted by the population. That means the forces are to stay in place for the foreseeable future. They are obviously getting frustrated leading to statements like these from Asadi.

The Iraq Joint Operations Command lashed out at recent reports about heavy casualties amongst the ISF during the campaign. It stated that such pieces were not only inaccurate, but fabrications affecting Iraqi morale and helping the Islamic State. It singled out one story that the Golden Division was suffering a 50% casualty rate, which threatened the combat effectiveness of the unit. Unlike previous campaigns the Iraqi government is not only not releasing figures on its losses but is actively going after critical reporting. It attacked the United Nations’ casualty figures for November 2016 saying they were exaggerated, and removed embedded reporters with the ISF in Mosul after they ran stories about how tough the fighting was. Baghdad’s case is hurt by the fact that it refuses to release any information about casualties, and its own reporting is dominated by propaganda depicting constant victories. The latter also brings into question whether Iraqi morale is being affected at all by these types of articles since they are a decided minority in the news flow heard every day. Given the constant car bomb attacks, sniper and mortar fire, and IEDs, and slow progress it has made within Mosul it would not be surprising if the ISF were facing heavy casualties, but the truth will likely never be known.

There is more displacement and returns going on inside and outside of Mosul. The Islamic State continued to force people out of their homes near the front to convert them into fighting positions. This was now happening in the northeast after Hadbaa was attacked. Rudaw followed some families that were going back to their homes in Mosul, but noted far more were leaving especially now that the campaign had been renewed. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) counted 132,234 displaced registered with the authorities and aid groups as of January 5. From December 8 to January 5 45,536 people signed up, and from December 29 to January 5 15,942 alone had done so. There are lots more within Mosul who are moving back and forth trying to escape the fighting or the Islamic State that are not registered.

Finally, PBS Newshour had the latest article on the vetting process people go through once they are registered. Every step from when they first come into contact with the Iraqi forces, to when they get to registration areas to the camps they stay in they are screened. There are huge lists of wanted people suspected of being IS members, and claims by people that lead to arrests. Those that get detained are to go before a judge to decide whether they should be further investigated. There are so many people fleeing however that the entire process is backed up. One judge in Qayara south of Mosul said he had a list of more than 40,000 suspects. A Human Rights Watch worker suggested that the government be more transparent by informing families of where their loved ones are, announcing the number of detained, and other steps. That’s unlikely to happen as the Iraqi bureaucracy is run from the top down and is very slow to change. Instead the system will continue as is and slow down more and more.  

PBS also reported that those that have not fled are under duress. It went to a town north of Mosul that was freed in December where the inhabitants decided to stay. They are not allowed out of the village without permission for security reasons, and have no services like electricity or water, and their food supply is running out. People inside Mosul in liberated areas may not be cordoned off by the security forces, but they too are running into deprivations and shortages. The government has attempted to distribute aid to some of these areas, but their efforts have been scattered. As more time passes the situation of these civilians will likely deteriorate as neither the government nor aid groups appear to have the resources to adequately deal with this situation.

SOUCES

Adel, Loaa, "Iraqi forces storm into 3 new neighborhoods in Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/15/16

AIN, “Ninewa We Are Coming: 132 Daash killed and continued advances into the left coast of Mosul [Revised],” 1/5/17

Al Alam, "HORRIFIC VIDEO: ISIS First 2017 Execution Footage," 1/5/17
- “Iraqi Forces Capture 70 Percent of Eastern Mosul from ISIS: Cmdr.,” 1/5/17
- "Iraqi Forces Establish Control over Key Hospital in Western Mosul," 12/6/16

Bas News, “70% of Eastern Mosul Cleared from IS: Official,” 12/12/16

Buratha News, “Recent development in the field during the liberation of Mosul until 18:35 pm Thursday 05 01 2017,” 1/5/17

Emergency Tracking Factsheet 10# - Mosul Operations From 17 October To 5 January,” 1/5/17

Ensor, Josie, “Isil stops paying Mosul fighters’ salaries in hint at funding shortage,” Telegraph, 1/5/17

Face Iraq, “Security forces continue its operation against Daesh terrorists within Ninewa,” 1/5/17
- "Security forces liberated Mithaq, Sumer, Jaffa and stormed Dumiz neighborhood on the left coast of Mosul," 1/3/17
- “Sources: Almost complete cessation of life in areas of right coast of Mosul, warnings of famine such as occurred in Fallujah,” 1/5/17

Al Forat, “Asadi declares near the start of the sixth stage of the liberation of Tal Afar, west of Mosul and the other areas,” 1/5/17
- “Asadi: Popular Crowd awaiting orders by Abadi to enter Mosul,” 1/5/17
- "Ashura Brigades repelled attack by Daesh south of Mosul," 1/5/17
- "Photographer for joint operations command injured in Mosul," 1/5/17

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Dec. 17, 2016," 12/17/16
- "Inside Mosul: Jan. 4, 2017," 1/4/17
- "Inside Mosul: Jan. 5, 2017," 1/5/17

Kalin, Stephen and Coles, Isabel, “Iraqi general says 70 percent of east Mosul retaken from Islamic State,” Reuters, 1/5/17

Al Maalomah, “Popular Crowd destroys Daesh criminals near Tal Afar,” 1/5/17

Mohamed, Mostafa, “17 civilians killed in Islamic State shelling east of Mosul: officer,” Iraqi News, 1/5/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "17 civilians killed in Islamic State shelling east of Mosul: officer," Iraqi News, 1/5/17

NINA, "Int'l Coalition To Bombarded Daesh Sites And Security Forces Free Hadbaa Region North Of Mosul," 12/31/16
- “Joint Special Operations Command: Battle of Mosul comparable to losses in Battles of Anbar and Salahuddin,” 1/4/17

PBS Newshour, “Why Iraqi boys and men are disappearing amid ISIS concerns,” 1/4/17

Perry, Mark, “How Iraq’s Army Could Defeat ISIS in Mosul-But Lose Control of the Country,” Politico, 12/15/16

Roblin, Sebastien, “Baghdad Doesn’t Want You to Know How Many of Its Soldiers Are Dying,” War Is Boring, 1/4/17

Rudaw, “Braving rubble, no services, security risks, some Mosul families return home,” 1/5/17

Al Sumaria, “Counter-Terrorism forces promises surprises in the battle of Mosul,” 1/5/17


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