On the 90th day of the Mosul campaign all of southeast Mosul was declared freed and much of the northern section as well. Starting in the south, the Federal Police and 9th Division freed Yarmja. The Rapid Reaction forces reached the Tigris River and said it was aiming to attack the Mosul Airport. Other units were clearing areas they had taken in the section. In doing so the entire southeastern part of Mosul was under government control. Towards the center the Golden Division liberated Sadriya, Nassir and Faisaliya. The unit also seized several government buildings including the mayor and the provincial council’s offices. In the north the division took all of the Mosul University. Above that the army was going through Hadbaa, Mudraa and Kafat looking for IEDs and booby traps. Only about 25% of Mosul in the northeast along the Tigris River and in the center remains under Islamic State control after these recent advances.
In the new areas being entered there has been a shift in the fighting. First, there are fewer car bombs. There used to be double digits per day, but now that is down to around 1-4. There are also not as many civilian casualties because not many people live in areas such as the government complex and the Mosul University.
The Washington Post noted how reinforcements, more supplies and an increase in U.S. led Coalition advisers has facilitated the recent victories. The Golden Division, which has been in the lead inside Mosul received up to 300 new replacements. It also got 70 additional Humvees, and 40 U.S. Coalition advisers in and around Mosul. The first two were very important to keep the unit going. There have been various figures presented for the Golden Division’s casualties. An Iraqi general said it had suffered 20-26% losses, an American officer told Politico that it was as high as 50%, while a former American adviser to the Golden Division had heard the figure was 20-35%. There’s no way to say which was right, as the government does not report its losses. Whatever the true number was replacement troops and equipment were crucial to keep the force going in the tough fighting within the city. The forward deployment of Coalition forces also helped with air and artillery strikes, and providing intelligence and advice.
Reuters had a piece on how IS was fighting inside the city. It talked with people in Muharibeen, which is now under government control, about how the militants conducted themselves. IS hung curtains across streets to try to obscure its movements from the ISF. It parked car bombs on side streets waiting for opportunities to deploy them, forced people out of their homes at gunpoint to use them as fire positions, and then quickly moved on to others. Finally there was a division of labor between fighters who planted explosives, snipers, and guides. The guides would tell fighters where to take up positions, where to place car bombs, etc. The IS members were also from different places. Locals claimed the snipers were usually foreign fighters form Russia, Chechnya and Afghanistan, while the rest were Iraqis mostly from Mosul and Tal Afar.
Another day and there was another story on the divisions within the Islamic State. 10 IS fighters were allegedly killed and wounded in a clash. As insurgents were fleeing east Mosul for the west crossing the Tigris, other members called them cowards. That led to an argument and armed clashes that resulted in the casualties.
The Director General of the Joint Crisis Coordination Center in Kurdistan warned that the humanitarian situation was growing worse for those displaced from the fighting. He said that around 3,000 people were fleeing Mosul per day. 70% of those make their way to camps in Kurdistan. He complained that Baghdad and international donors were not contributing enough to aid this increasing wave of people. This was predicted before the Mosul campaign began, and was why the government urged the people of Ninewa to stay in their homes. The authorities and aid groups simply lacked the resources to take care of them. Only one tenth of the one million internal refugees that were feared have materialized, but they even that amount is turning into a handful.
Rudaw went to a screening court at a displaced camp in Khazir. While most have focused upon the males that are taken away as suspected IS sympathizers during this process Rudaw wrote about the documents people are missing, which are crucial for receiving aid. People need their government IDs to receive tents, food rations, and other forms of assistance. Many coming out of Mosul have either left those papers behind, were lost while they were under IS rule, or were taken by Kurdish security when they escaped. The situation of the displaced is already hard enough. Without their papers it will be all that more difficult.
Finally, the Ninewa Plains were liberated during the Mosul operation, which is one of the historical homelands of Iraq’s Christians. Many of their towns like Qaraqosh have been destroyed however, and few are talking about returning. Instead many interviewed by the press have talked about immigrating to other countries, especially ones in Europe, a process that has been going on for years now due to the violence aimed at them. As one Christian woman said, the Islamic State “destroyed our dreams and our memories” and there was little left for them in Iraq now. On the other hand, there are some that want to create their own province or region. How successful that will be with more and more of the community leaving the country is yet to be seen.
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