The northern and southern fronts of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have now connected in west Mosul and are heading towards east. The Hawi Kanisa neighborhood was the latest to be freed. Mesherfa was declared liberated as well after the last section was cleared on May 6. The next day fighting was reported going on there. Islah al-Zirahi was still under attack, and Iqtisadin was entered as well. The Iraqi command said that the 9th Division, which initiated the northern assault was done as its armor was not suitable for the current street fights. Another army division, the 16th, is now operating in the city joining the Golden Division and Interior Ministry forces. Together they are aiming for the Tigris River. They will then take on the Old City where the police got caught up in March, which caused the new northern offensive.
Al Monitor talked with Iraqi security analyst Hisham al-Hashimi who was extremely critical of the government’s portrayal of the Mosul battle. First, he noted that captured Islamic State documents show that the group was no longer using names in its personnel files, but numbers, which means it will be much harder for the security forces to track them down. Many either got out before Mosul was surrounded or have melted into the population. Second, the Iraqi command always claims the militants are fleeing, which he refuted. The seven month battle for Mosul would prove that official line false. Third, he said the daily releases by the security forces were pure propaganda rife with exaggerations. For example, the ISF constantly gives kill numbers for IS fighters which are far beyond the group’s total membership. Fourth, Hashimi claimed that many of the insurgent leaders the government says it killed are still alive. Since 2014 Baghdad has been pushing a victory narrative with one success after another, both real and imagined. Hashimi was only stating what has been obvious over all those years.
The Associated Press talked with victims of the fighting in Ninewa. The Red Cross has counted at least 625 people from Mosul who have lost a limb. One women recounted how her neighbor’s house was blown up forcing her to flee. She was then hit by an IED that blew off her knee cap. Some aid groups are trying to provide physical therapists, but it’s never enough. Civilians have suffered huge casualties in the battle. AP was shining a light on some of their stories.
Kuwait is one of the few countries providing direct aid to the people of Ninewa. The Kuwait Red Crescent delivered 2,500 food baskets to approximately 15,000 residents of Mosul. International aid and funding is sorely lacking in the province, while the needs are so large.
The renewed fighting in Mosul is increasing the number of displaced (IDPs). The International Organization for Migration counted another major jump in the second week of May. On May 7, there were 363,228 registered IDPs. That rose to 369,594 by May 11. Officially, 116,075 people have returned, but many of those have gone to east Mosul to be near their homes in the west. There are many more people who never signed up with the government or aid agencies.
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