The Iraqi forces are pushing down north towards the Old City (grey section), which will be the last part of Mosul taken from the Islamic State (Ninewa Media Cell)
The Golden Division announced that it attacked the Najar region along the Tigris River in west Mosul. It claimed it had reached that back on May 2 before the northern offensive had even begun, and then again on May 15. Too often the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) get ahead of themselves and state that they have reached or cleared an area before even being there, and this was another example.
Vice President Osama Nujafi who is from Mosul criticized the conduct of the Federal Police in the battle. He said that they were undisciplined and destroying homes and killing civilians with their use of rockets and artillery. Since March the Federal Police have been stuck in the Old City. In other articles, they have been singled out for over relying upon shelling to deal with Islamic State resistance, and causing casualties.
Rudaw was the latest to write about the humanitarian crisis going on inside IS controlled Mosul. It talked with a man coming out of west Mosul who said he hadn’t eaten in 15 days. Others told the paper that people were eating flour, potatoes, fruit and even leaves to survive. The western section of the city has been cut off from supplies for quite some time, which has led to growing malnutrition. Many aid groups and displaced have talked about this issue before. The situation can only be reversed when the entire city is liberated.
The Hashd went back on the offensive in the Qayrawan area of west Ninewa. Eight villages were freed in the process. This raised more criticism. Originally Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told the Hashd they could not enter Sinjar because of a deal with Baghdad that banned their forces from the district. Then the mayor of Sinjar stated that the Hashd forces could pose a threat if they caused tensions and didn’t withdraw. The governor of Ninewa joined in by saying that the Hashd should not be operating in the area without the cooperation of the Peshmerga. The move into Sinjar has caused this controversy because the Kurds are struggling to re-assert their political control over the area. The Hashd are a further complication, so Barzani would like them to stay out. That may lead the Peshmerga to move into towns to stop the Hashd from taking them, or a new political controversy with Baghdad or both.
General Najm al-Jabouri, the head of the Ninewa Operations Command was the latest to announce that Tal Afar will not be taken until after Mosul is liberated. Months ago, the Hashd surrounded the town, but were not allowed to take it. That was in part due to objections by Turkey who said that it would intervene if those forces moved on the town. The question is when Tal Afar is attacked will the Hashd take part as they have waited to do or whether it will just be the army and police to assuage Ankara.
Many of the displaced (IDPs) from Mosul do not have their government papers. That is a huge problem because without them they can’t get any services from the government. The Independent reported on an added problem, children born in Mosul under the Islamic State have never been issued papers. If they are single mothers they can’t get documents for their children because Iraqi law requires a mother and a father to confirm the birth. Iraqi and international aid groups are trying to get legal teams to visit displaced camps and help with these problems, but there are few judges available, and there are over 300,000 IDPs.
There were several other pieces on the growing number of displaced and their situation. The International Organization (IOM) documented another big jump in IDPs caused by the new fighting in northwest Mosul. On May 14, there were 370,344 people registered with the government. That jumped to 376,230 IDPs by May 18. Lise Grande the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq warned that the recent increase in IDPs was overwhelming aid groups. So many are now arriving at camps that not all of them can be provided for. The U.N. is worried that tens of thousands more will eventually flee as well. For years, the U.N.’s Iraq operations have been strained, and the current crisis is only making that worse. So far only 28% of the group’s humanitarian program is funded. Rudaw added that the coming summer heat will only exacerbate the current crisis. It is already reaching 99 F/37 C in some of the camps. That’s expected to rise as high as 122 F/50 C by the summer. People are already sleeping outside their tents because of the heat. The IOM is distributing summer kits that include summer sheets, fans, and water coolers. There is a shortage of electricity and water however, which may mean these items cannot be used. Finally, scabies, diarrhea and dehydration were spreading at the Qayara camp, which Rudaw visited. A recent survey of IDPs found that most felt that they were powerless. They felt stuck in their current locations, couldn’t get information about aid or how to register complaints. That’s likely to get worse before they get better as more people are arriving and the weather changes.
Finally, Human Rights Watch documented two cases where people were forced out of IDP camps south of Mosul for no apparent reason. In May, the army went to the Hamam al-Alil camp and told people from three neighborhoods in Mosul they had to leave immediately because new arrivals were coming. Around 300 families were put on army trucks and dropped off at the southern entrance to Mosul. The mayor of Hamam al-Alil got wind of the situation and ordered it to stop. That same day a sheikh went to the Haj Ali camp and told people from freed areas they had to go home. Some of the people kicked out went back to their home areas, while others made the trek back to Hamam al-Alil. The alleged cause of the forced removal was that more people were coming from the city, but the U.N. and camp workers revealed there were 7,000 plots in camps. Even though this was just two cases, it was an extreme violation of the rights of these people. Many were going back to districts right along the front lines where there was still a threat of Islamic State shelling.
Baghdad Post, “Iraq VP: Federal Police Units destroyed Mosul, killed many civilians,” 5/18/17
Bas News, “Hashd Al-Shaabi Forces Will Pose Threat to Security of Sinjar: Mayor,” 5/18/17
Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: Families Who Fled Mosul Forced Back,” 5/18/17
International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet #29 – Mosul Operations From 17 October to 18 May,” 5/18/17
Al Maalomah, "Security forces storm Najar neighborhood in West Mosul," 5/15/17
McKernan, Bethan, “Iraq’s generation of stateless Isis children is being ‘punished for the crimes of their fathers,’” 5/18/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Iraqi command to target Tal Afar after Mosul, officials say 750 fighters remain in city,” Iraqi News, 5/18/17
Mostafa, Nehal, "Iraqi troops invade western Mosul district, kill militants in airstrike," Iraqi News, 5/18/17
- "More than 30 Islamic State militants killed in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 5/2/17
- “Updated: Paramilitary troops free airbase, more villages, west of Mosul,” Iraqi News, 5/18/17
Rudaw, “Humanitarian crisis escalates in Mosul as besieged residents face starvation,” 5/18/17
- “Summer heat: Yet another challenge to Iraqi IDPs,” 5/18/17
Shafaaq News, “Ninewa Council criticizes the incursion of the popular crowd into Qayrawan,” 5/18/17
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Alarming numbers of people fleeing western Mosul city,” 5/18/17
Valmary, Simon, “On Mosul front, Iraqi forces come as civilians go,” Agence France Presse, 5/18/17
Xinhua, “Iraqi forces recapture new neighborhood in western Mosul,” 5/18/17