Iraqi forces are fighting over the Mosul neighborhoods just north of the Ghazlani Camp and Mosul Airport
The Iraqi forces continued to fight over south Mosul. Hawl al-Josaq north of the Mosul Airport and Tal Ruman on the northwest perimeter of the city were declared freed by the police forces and the 9th Division respectively. Those two neighborhoods were said to have been liberated on February 24. Dandan next to Hawl al-Josaq along the Tigris River was still contested after the Iraqi Forces (ISF) said they took it on February 25. After capturing Mosul Airport the Federal Police and Rapid Reaction Division have moved up the bank of the Tigris to secure the western side of the Fourth Bridge. This is where the ISF plan on building a pontoon bridge across the river. That’s being done by the 310th Engineering Company. It’s common to have the ISF say a place has been taken multiple times. Sometimes this is propaganda, sometimes its because a unit has moved through an area calling it freed, but then follow up forces have to actually check to make sure all the Islamic State fighters have been rooted out. Other times there is re-infiltration.
The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and New Sabah had articles on the battle inside west Mosul. The LA Times was with a unit from the Golden Division in Wadi Hajar detailing how intense the fighting was there. The soldiers were taking fire from all sides and couldn’t advance as a result. The NY Times noted some of the tactics the Islamic State was using. The Iraqis are attacking on multiple fronts trying to stretch out the militants. IS is responding by concentrating on what it thinks is the major line of advance. New Sabah got reports from the ISF that the insurgents were burning oil, tires, and abandoned homes in an attempt to obscure the view of drones and aircraft flying over head. This is a tactic that the group has used for years. It was also confiscating cars to be used as car bombs or block streets. Before the new operation started the government was pushing the line that IS was a defeated force. Its leaders and fighters had fled, it had lost control over its men, that its morale was low, etc. As it turns out the militants are resisting just like they did in east Mosul. The question is how long will it take to break through their defenses and liberate the entire city.
US M109s at Hamam al-Alil (Mustafa Habib)
The New York Times ran a piece on the fire support the U.S. led coalition is providing. In Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul the U.S. has deployed M109 Paladin 155 mm self-propelled guns. Still further south in Qayara the Americans have M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). France also has an artillery unit deployed in the area. Apache helicopters join the planes and drones carrying out strikes on Mosul. The U.S. is trying to help with the IS drone threat by bombing areas believed to they are based out of. These multiple weapon systems have all been in use in Ninewa for some time. What is different is that the Trump administration has allowed the forward deployment of Special Forces and shortened the time between ISF when units call for help and how long it takes the Coalition to respond. That will greatly help with the ISF advance.
Now that the battle for west Mosul has begun there is hardly any coverage of what’s going on in the east. Two suicide bombers were killed trying to get into the Salam Hospital and set off their devices. These types of attacks are meant to sow fear among the population and that appears to be working as fewer people are now returning.
A new wave of people is now fleeing west Mosul. General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi of the Golden Division said that around 1,500 were seen leaving the city on February 27. The day before, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNHCR) reported that there were 8,800 new displaced. NGOs are trying to build capacity at three camps to the south of the city to accommodate them. The UNHCR noted that around half of the internally displaced lacked legal documents. IDs are crucial to move around the country to get through checkpoints, and to receive government assistance. The U.N. is attempting to assist them with this issue. The World Food Programe is also putting together food packages for those fleeing since many people have little subsistence in the western half of the city. It appears far more people are leaving west Mosul then exited the east.
Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraqi forces battling Islamic State reach Mosul bridge,” Associated Press, 2/27/17
Adel, Loaa, "Iraqi forces recapture Tal Rumman village in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 2/27/17
- "Iraqi police kills 2 IS suicide bombers south of Mosul," Iraqi News, 2/27/17
AIN, “Urgent…commanders of counter terrorism forces: the displacement of more than 1,500 civilians today from West Mosul,” 2/27/17
BBC, “Mosul battle: Iraqi forces seize key bridge,” 2/27/17
Bulos, Nabih, “Islamic State is showing stunning resistance as Iraqi troops try to breach west Mosul,” Los Angeles Times, 2/27/17
Gordon, Michael, “U.S. Forces Play Crucial Role Against ISIS in Mosul,” New York Times, 2/26/17
Hussein, Sara, “In Iraq’s desert, mass grave horror beneath the dirt,” Agence France Presse, 2/27/17
Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: Feb. 25, 2017,” 2/27/17
Al Jazeera, “Forces push into western part of ISIL-held Mosul,” 2/27/17
Khadder, Kareem and Alkshail, Hamdi and Formanek, Ingrid, “Iraq army seizes key Mosul bridge in ISIS battle,” CNN, 2/27/17
Al Maalomah, "The killing of 30 terrorists and four car bombs destroyed right bank of Mosul," 2/27/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, "Iraqi forces recapture northwestern Mosul village, PMUs kill 15 militants," Iraqi News, 2/27/17
New Sabah, “Daesh burning everything on the right bank of Mosul,” 2/27/17
- “Joint forces free Tayaran neighborhood and area in Josaq to the fourth bridge in West Mosul,” 2/27/17
NINA, "Rapid Reaction Forces Storm The First Popular Area In The Southern Axis Of Mosul," 2/25/17
Shafaaq News, "Full details of the last 24-hours of battle in Mosul," 2/24/17
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq: Mosul Humanitarian Response Situation Report No. 21 (20 February – 26 February 2017),” 2/26/17
World Food Programme, “WFP Concerned About Desperate Reports Coming From Families Inside Western Mosul,” 2/27/17
Xinhua, “Iraqi forces push further into IS-held western Mosul,” 2/27/17
- “Iraqi forces seize strategic bridge, extend grip in western Mosul,” 2/27/17