Federal Police fighting in Old City, West Mosul (Reuters)
The Iraqi Air Force once again dropped flyers over Mosul telling the citizens to stay in their homes. In the past such actions have preceded a new offensive by the Iraqi forces (ISF). One is about overdue as the police have made no real advances in the Old City for several weeks now.
Where there has been movement is in the west where the Golden Division freed the Maghreb neighborhood. There was still fighting in Yarmouk however, which was declared freed twice before. While the police have been holding down Islamic State fighters in the Old City, the Golden Division moved up the center and western section of the city.
USA Today interviewed civilians that had fled west Mosul. They described how people were moving towards the front in hopes of escaping the Islamic State. That also put them in danger as both the Iraqis and the insurgents shot at them. There have been recent stories of IS forcing people into homes to be used as human shields, but none of the people in the article said they had seen that. What the militants were doing was constantly moving from house to house so they didn’t get targeted. Many times the buildings they leave get hit.
Speaking of air strikes, three were reported, two in Mosul and one in the Badush district to the west of the city that caused civilian casualties. All together 64 were killed in the incidents. There was no information if these were Iraqi or Coalition aircraft involved.
The ISF claimed there was another gas attack by IS. Mortar shells hit Rajim al-Hadid, which has just changed hands twice. A security source claimed gas was involved. These stories are never confirmed, but the militants have been known to use chlorine in the past.
There is still wide speculation about the fate of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Fuad Hussein the chief of staff to Kurdish President Massoud Barzani claimed Baghdadi escaped Mosul in February 2017. Allegedly 300 fighters and 17 car bombs were used to clear a route out of the city for him. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi seemed to discredit the story by saying that Baghdadi had fled Mosul a long time ago. The Islamic State likely wrote off Mosul a while ago, and it was widely apparent when the government was going to launch its assault upon the city. There was therefore no good reason for Baghdadi to stay. IS is looking to rebuild not fade away and go down as martyrs.
An adviser to the Ninewa governor told the press that 90% of the displaced had returned to liberated east Mosul. He also said that electricity, drinking water and schools were all running again. While people have been moving back to Mosul 90% seems to be an exaggeration, and is not supported by other sources. Not to mention services are still down in the entire city. Schools however are re-opened.
The United Nations had some disturbing information that armed men were now operating inside displaced camps. People have complained about being intimidated by them. The U.N. has gone to the authorities to complain about their presence and tried to force them out. Nothing was said about who the men might be, whether they were linked to the government or tribal forces.
Adel, Loaa, "CTS liberates Maghreb neighborhood in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 4/5/17
Agence France Presse, “Iraq urges residents in IS-held areas to shelter at home,” 4/5/17
Baghdad Post, "16 killed in airstrikes in Mosul's right bank," 4/5/17
- "40 killed in airstrikes northwestern Mosul," 4/5/17
- "CTS forces advance in Yarmouk neighborhood in right bank of Mosul," 4/5/17
- "Iraq's forces retook all of Yarmouk apartments area in Mosul," 3/22/17
- “ISIS used 17 suicide car bombs ‘to help Baghdadi flee Mosul,’” 4/4/17
Bas News, “IS Chief Al-Baghdadi Has Fled Mosul Long Time Ago: PM Abadi,” 4/4/17
Habib, Mustafa, “Needless In A Haystack: In East Mosul, The Hard – And Flawed – Hunt For Former Extremist Fighters,” Niqash, 4/5/17
Hasan, Hamuda and Chmaytelli, Maher, “U.N. Expands Civilian Camps as Air Strikes Resume on Mosul,” Reuters, 4/4/17
Kittleson, Shelly, “While thousands flee west Mosul, some Iraqi families vow to hang on,” Al Monitor, 4/4/17
Kossov, Igor, “Many airstrikes in Mosul go unreported, civilian victims say,” USA Today, 4/3/17
Medecins Sans Frontieres, “Trauma Care in Iraq: “Every Day We See the Worst Injuries Inflicted by This War,”” 4/3/17
Mustafa, Nehal, "35 killed, injured as IS militants shell gas bombs west of Mosul," Iraqi News, 4/4/17
- "40 IS fighters killed, strategic regions liberated in western Mosul: Federal Police," Iraqi News, 4/3/17
- “90 percent of displaced residents return back to eastern Mosul: Official,” Iraqi News, 4/4/17
- "Nine civilians killed, three wounded in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 4/5/17
New Sabah, “The joint forces are opening safe corridors for families fleeing the grip of Daash in preparation for a large-scale military operation,” 4/4/17
Rojkan, Mira, “Iraqi Forces Evacuate Residents from Western Mosul before Further Advances,” Bas News, 4/4/17
Rudaw, “Four ISIS leaders killed as Iraqi forces encircle strategic mosque,” 4/4/17
Snyder, Stephen, “ISIS has found a new, deadly use of for human shields in Mosul,” PRI’s The World, 4/4/17
Sotaliraq, “Death toll on civilians on the front line in Mosul,” 4/4/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 4 April 2017,” 4/4/17
- “Mosul Weekly Protection Update, 25-31 March, 2017,” 3/31/17
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Mosul Humanitarian Crisis, 4 April 2017,” 4/4/17
World Health Organization, “WHO Special Situation Report – Mosul Crisis, Iraq – Issue No 12: 26 March to 01 April 2017,” 4/1/17