The Iraqi forces (ISF) were moving forward on all three fronts in east Mosul on January 13. In the north, the army’s 15th and 16th Divisions freed Hadbaa and Mudraa. In the center, the Golden Division has split up into two branches. One has moved north and linked up with the army. It freed Kafat 1 and attacked Kafat 2 and the Mosul University. The Technical Institute, Technical College, and dormitories were all taken. To the south the Golden Division freed Nassir and Rafaq, and seized the entrances to the Hurriya and Iron bridges. The ISF has now reached the three southernmost bridges across the Tigris River. In response, the Islamic State set off explosives on all five spans to impede the ISF from using them. Sadriya, Nassir, and Faisaliya were entered, and the Prophet Younis site was assaulted. The Federal Police and 9th Division were clearing areas that had just been taken the last few days, namely Sumer, Dumiz, Sahiron, and Salam in the south. Originally, the Golden Division entered east Mosul on its own due to orders from Prime Minister Haidar Abadi who was eager to seize the city by the end of 2016. This was despite the fact that the northern and southern fronts had not even reached the city to spread the Islamic State’s defenses out. Eventually elements of the 9th Division entered the eastern section as well, but there was little coordination with the Golden Division. That along with the sturdy defenses of the insurgents led to slow progress with some setbacks. The whole operation eventually came to a halt in December to reload and reorganize, and come up with a new plan. When the campaign was restarted major forces from the army and police were shifted to east Mosul to push forward on three lines of advance. That was supported by more U.S. Coalition support with planes, helicopters, artillery, and intelligence. The Americans also pushed greater cooperation between the different Iraqi forces. Since then there has been a series of victories, and a collapse of IS’s defenses.
|(Institute for the Study of War)|
Each day there are more stories of IS forces in east Mosul falling into disarray. New Sabah received reports that the militants were robbing people and looting homes as they fled to the western half of the city. They were also burning government offices in a scorched earth campaign they have been carrying out since October. A security source also said that the group’s discipline was breaking down, as some were not following orders to stop civilians from escaping to government held lines. If this carries over to western Mosul it might fall much quicker than the eastern section.
More people continued to flee the Mosul area. The International Organization for Migration counted 144,588 people registered up to January 12. From January 5 to January 12 12,354 people left. A total of 161,172 people signed up with the government and aid agencies, but 16,560 of those have gone back to their homes. Gogjali an eastern suburb of Mosul is the hub for people moving back and forth into Mosul. Some are heading north to camps in Kurdistan while others are staying in the area. Most said they were trying to escape IS shelling. The number of people leaving has more than doubled since the campaign has re-started at the end of last year.
Gogjali is also where life is beginning to return to the Mosul area. People are opening stalls, shops and markets there. This is despite the fact that there is no power and other services. Trucks bring in supplies to the town, and people from east Mosul travel their to buy goods. There are at least several thousand people displaced within the city. Where fighting is going on or IS rocket and mortar fire is the most intense they leave, but then others are going back to parts that are more secure. None of these are included in the displaced figures because they are not registered.
Finally, the United Nations released a study of the oil fires in Qayara. These were set afire back in October when IS fled the area. They are spitting out huge toxic clouds that have had a huge environmental impact on the area. While several wells have been put out there are still 29 others still burning.
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