The Iraqi Forces (ISF) were mostly consolidating their hold on the areas they took in west Mosul, while two more advances were announced, but not corroborated officially. First, on February 27 a large attack by the Islamic State was turned back at the Ghazlani Base that was freed on February 24. Apparently not all of the camp had been taken either as the Federal Police cleared a Mosque there. On February 28 Iraqi officers claimed Wadi Hajar and Dawas were liberated. Those have not been made official yet however. Otherwise the ISF were going through Hawi al-Josaq and Mamun looking for IEDs and any left behind IS fighters. Engineers started work on constructing a pontoon bridge across the Tigris River where the Fourth Bridge used to stand before the U.S. Coalition bombed it. The bridge is suppose to allow more forces to flow into west Mosul as well as supplies.
There were several reports on the difficult conditions within west Mosul. Reuters went along with a unit from the Rapid Reaction Division, which is moving along the Tigris River. Police talked about how the layout of the city with its winding roads and dense housing was slowing the advance. Two articles by Iraq Oil Report noted that Coalition and ISF shelling and air strikes were causing a high number of civilian casualties. Some buildings IS were using as fighting positions had civilians hiding in the basement who were killed when they were hit by Coalition planes. ISF shelling on Wadi Hajar and Mamun also killed and wounded a large number of people. Residents said they saw people trapped in collapsed buildings. During the day 31 people were said to have been killed by ISF fire and another 10 wounded. Finally, the Islamic State lined up 33 former police officers along the Tigris River and executed them. That was to intimidate the Iraqi forces and civilians on the other side of the river. Another 10 people were killed by IS mines, and 3 died and 2 were wounded by its mortar fire. West Mosul is very compact and there are several hundred thousand people still living there. Together that makes any shelling or bombing missions likely to cause collateral damage. The insurgents have consistently fired mortars and rockets upon liberated areas. This is mostly going unreported however.
To the west and south of Mosul the army and Hashd are going through a number of towns. The 9th, 15th, 16th Divisions and the Al-Abbas Division liberated six villages from February 27 to 28. This is meant to shore up the perimeter around Mosul.
Despite all the heavy fighting going on the Iraqi government returned to its propaganda releases. Federal Police General Raed Shakir Jawadat was quoted as saying that the Islamic State’s leaders were fleeing Mosul, and that the group was falling apart. Iraqi officials have been talking about IS being defeated since October.
To the west General Najm Jabouri the commander of Ninewa Operations said that the 15th Division would take Tal Afar. Who would be given this task has been a point of contention since the Mosul operation started in October. Originally the Hashd were given control of the area west of Mosul including Tal Afar. Then Turkey put up such a fuss about it that Baghdad signed an agreement with Ankara to have the army and police to take the town. Nothing happened however as the ISF were too bush with Mosul to spare any units. Next National Security Adviser Falah Fayad stated that there was nothing to stop the Hashd from entering Tal Afar. They continued trying to cut Islamic State supply lines in the area however rather than heading for the village. Next, the Ninewa council let it be known that the ISF was in charge of Tal Afar again. There doesn’t appear to be any consensus on the issue as all the back and forth highlights. That might also be a reason why Tal Afar has been left alone so far.
Southwest of Mosul near Qayara a tribal Hashd group found another mass grave of victims of the Islamic State. It was estimated that up to 100 bodies might be found there. Everywhere the insurgents have been cleared from these murder sites have been discovered marking their destructive rule in northern Iraq.
The Mosul operation has led to a new wave of displaced. Around 14,000 people have fled according to the government. The International Organization for Migration reported that 3,000-4,000 civilians arrived at camps and another 6,000 were waiting at checkpoints outside Mosul. This is far more than left when east Mosul was originally entered.
The story of the United States dropping supplies to the Islamic State in Tal Afar continued. Two members of the parliamentary security committee brought it up. One claimed he had documents on 26 cases of the U.S. led coalition providing aid to IS, and called for an investigation. Another gave similar stories and called on the government to take action. Pro-Iranian Hashd groups have been spreading these reports since 2014. They play upon the plethora of conspiracy theories prevalent throughout Iraq. Many believe that the Americans are behind the Islamic State and if not directly its allies are. This sentiment is so strong that even Baghdad sometimes denies what Washington is providing in the fight against IS.
CBS News, “As ISIS squeezed, “desperate” civilians flee Mosul,” 2/28/17
Coles, Isabel, “Mosul caught in ‘strange and terrifying’ battle as Islamic State foreign soldiers fight to the end,” Reuters, 2/28/17
Coles, Isabel and Chmaytelli, Maher, “U.S.-backed Iraqi forces close in on IS-held Mosul government buildings,” Reuters, 2/28/17
International Organization for Migration, “IOM Iraq Sees Surge of Internally Displaced from Mosul as Fighting Intensifies,” 2/28/17
Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: Feb. 27, 2017,” 2/28/17
- “Inside Mosul: Feb. 28, 2017,” 2/28/17
Al Maalomah, “Parliamentary security committee calls for the government and the air defense to reveal the actors involved in dropping aid to Daash in Tal Afar,” 2/28/17
- “Parliamentary security committee documented 26 cases of international coalition aircraft delivering aid to Daesh,” 2/28/17
McKirdy, Euan, Khadder, Kareem, and Alkshali, Hamdi, “Iraqi commander: ISIS leaders ‘running away’ from Mosul,” CNN, 2/28/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Army close to invading Tal Afar, more than 900 militants killed in western Mosul,” Iraqi News, 2/28/17
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New Sabah, “Joint Forces liberated the Turkish consulate and other areas in West Mosul,” 2/28/17
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- “Mosul: Iraqi Forces to Use Floating Bridge Over Tigris River,” 2/28/17
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