Events in Mosul took two strange turns. First, in north Mosul the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) left out a number of Islamic State corpses by a main road. Hunting down IS sleeper cells and members that slipped into the general population is a major concern of the government. The bodies were supposed to deter Islamic State members in the district by warning them about what will happen to them. More importantly, in the east side some soldiers from the Golden Division stopped a unit from the National Security Service (NSS) from searching some houses in Nur citing sectarian abuses. This led to an argument and gunfire leading to one NSS officer being killed and one wounded. There have been some reports of looting and harassing of civilians in east Mosul by the ISF. While the Golden Division is the country’s premier force, not all the ISF are as professional. That probably explained the unfortunate clash that happened in Nur.
In anticipation of the coming battle for west Mosul, the Joint Operations Command announced that it would not let the media be at the frontlines. The government has become more restrictive as the campaign has progressed. In December 2016 for example it banned embedded reporters with the ISF. It seems it is continuing to tighten up access. That is an attempt to make the official line the only one available to the public.
Drones are becoming an increasing part of the fight against the Islamic State. They are being used by the insurgents to not only drop explosives, but as surveillance and spotting devices for mortar and rocket fire, and guides for suicide bombers. IS for example, just released a video of its drone attacks inside Mosul. As a result the ISF asked the U.S. led Coalition to help counter them, and anti-drone devices have been sent.
The flow of people in and out of Mosul continued, and they were still facing difficulties. A total of 161,886 people have been displaced from Ninewa since the battle started in mid-October. From February 2-3 the United Nations reported that 1,070 people fled Mosul due to mortar fire, but there was also a lack of food and water. At the same time 737 civilians returned to the city and surrounding villages over those same two days. Many were leaving to look for work. A problem for those going back was the proliferation of IEDs and mines left behind by the insurgents. The Express talked with a family that went back to their village just outside of Mosul who had their son killed by an IED. It’s believed that there are thousands of unexploded devices throughout the province. A British agency Mines Advisory Group is working to disarm them. It will likely take more than year if not more to get rid of all of them.
Finally, the Ninewa council is attempting to return health services to Mosul. A member of the council let it be known that a hospital re-opened on February 4. There are also 12 health clinics operating. The councilman claimed that they were all supplied, but other reports have questioned that due to the extreme caseload each one is facing.
Adel, Loaa, “Iraqi forces wage psychological war with jihadist corpses,” Iraqi News, 2/6/17
ARA News, “Iraq calls for support to fight ISIS’ bomb-dropping drones,” 2/6/17
Bas News, “One Hospital, 12 Health Centers Operating in Eastern Mosul,” 2/6/17
Buratha News, “Nineveh, We Are Coming joint operations command will prevent the media from directly covering the fighting,” 2/6/17
International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Mosul Operations Data Snapshot: 5 February 2017,” 2/5/17
Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: Feb. 5, 2017,” 2/6/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Procedural dispute pits security troops against each other in Mosul, officer killed,” Iraqi News, 2/6/17
O’Brien, Zoie, “Entire Villages around Mosul laced with ISIS mines as children became jihadi victims,” Express, 2/6/17
Roblin, Sebastien, “Baghdad Doesn’t Want You to Know How Many of Its Soldiers Are Dying,” War Is Boring, 1/4/17
Rudaw, “Fear of ISIS sleeper cells looms large in freed areas of Mosul,” 2/6/17
Al Sumaria, “Member of Nineveh Council announced completion of plan to free right bank of Mosul,” 2/6/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: Flash Update – 6 February 2017,” 2/6/17