Friday, June 16, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 242 Jun 15 2017


Only two neighborhoods remain under Islamic State control in Mosul the Old City (large section in white) and Shifa (small section in white)

The Iraqi forces (ISF) were taking on one of the last two neighborhoods in Mosul under Islamic State control, while they officially announced another under government control. The Joint Operations Command officially declared Bab al-Sinjar one of the northern entrances to the Old City district freed. The Rapid Reaction Division and 9th Division were still attacking the medical center in Shifa. That area was originally entered at the end of May, but the Iraqi forces got ambushed by IS and driven off. Some reports have the ISF holding up to 60% of the neighborhood, while others have them stuck in the medical center with little other progress, so that figure may be an exaggeration. Shifa and the Old City are the last two sections of the city under insurgent control. The latter will be the last to be taken, and will likely be the most difficult due to its dense layout and the fact that the insurgents have nowhere to go but die fighting.


Iraqi forces have been stuck in the Shifa (Shafaa on map) medical center (signified by hospitals on map) since the start of the latest offensive that started at the end of May (Medecins Sans Frontieres)

Reuters interviewed several people living in the Old City under the Islamic State. One man talked about how people were slowly dying from hunger. He saw people shot by IS laying out on the street. The militants would not allow them to be buried wanting their corpses to be a warning to others who thought of escaping. A woman described how people were drinking foul water out of wells they dug. Tens of thousands of people are believed to still be living under IS in the city. They are facing huge deprivations in terms of food, water, medicine, not to mention the constant shelling, air strikes, use as human shields, and executions. They can’t wait for their liberation.

To the west of Mosul the army’s 15th Division was taking more towns in its push on Tal Afar. Four more villages were sized during the day. The army is moving from the east towards Tal Afar, and will likely free it in the coming weeks.

There are many who believe that the pro-Iran Hashd want to create a land bridge from Iran across Iraq to Syria. Two Russian reports said that had been accomplished. An ex-Syrian general was quoted in Izvestia that moving by land across Iraq will be much easier to send military supplies from Tehran to Damascus. Almost all the pro-Iran Hashd groups have been fighting in Syria at the behest of Iran for years now, and since reaching the border have been talking about crossing it. They see both wars as one, and take orders from Iran. Creating this corridor is probably one reason why the Hashd is emptying out the villages near Syria of people so that the Hashd can move through the area secure from attacks.

The Kurds criticized the Hashd presence in Sinjar once again. The Deputy Chief of Staff of the Peshmerga General Salar Mohammed Jabari issued a press statement claiming that the Hashd were working with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to cause problems in the district. He repeated the claim that Irbil and Baghdad had an agreement before the Mosul operation to only allow Kurdish forces in Kurdish areas. Both the PKK and Hashd are challenges to Kurdish rule in Sinjar, which is why they are trying to conflate the two together. The PKK stepped in and saved many Yazidis trapped by the Islamic State after the Kurds had abandoned them. The Hashd freed the remaining Yazidi towns under IS control, and also oppose the Kurds’ expansion into disputed areas like Sinjar, and many hold conspiratorial views of Irbil helping the rise of the Islamic State. These are all reasons why the Kurds would like to get rid of the two, but they are not going to leave any time soon. That means the war of words between them will continue into the foreseeable future.

The number of displaced (IDPs) is still going up. On May 15 before the last operation started there were 377,406 registered IDPs in Ninewa. That jumped to 401,126 on June 11, and then 415,986 by June 15. At the same time, around 190,800 people have returned. The Displacement Ministry claimed that was 95% of those that fled east Mosul. That’s actually not true, because the majority of the people who have gone back to east Mosul lately were IDPs from west Mosul who either didn’t want to stay in camps or wanted to be close to their homes. This was another example of Iraqi propaganda exaggerating the situation.

SOURCES

Al Aalem, “Peshmerga reveal the implementation of a joint scheme of the popular crowd and PKK militants in Sinjar,” 6/15/17

Baghdad Post, “Iraq Joint OPs says Mosul battle about to end,” 6/15/17
- “Remaining ISIS-held districts in Mosul’s al-Shifaa stormed,” 6/15/17

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet #33 – Mosul Operations From 17 October To 15 June,” 6/15/17

Iraq Media Network, “Announcement liberation of 4 villages west of Mosul,” 6/15/17

Iraq Newspaper, “Iraqi Newspaper Correspondent In Mosul: Attack on Medical Center Began After 21 Air Strikes,” 6/15/17

Middle East Monitor, “Damascus opens arms corridor from Iran via Iraq,” 6/15/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, “UPDATED: army takes over Mosul’s Old City entrance, IS trapped,” Iraqi News, 6/15/17
- “UPDATED: 200.000 civilians repatriated in eastern Mosul, more evacuated in west,” Iraqi News, 6/15/17

Mostafa, Nehal, “Mosul Old City residents spend hungry and fearful Ramadan under IS rule,” Iraqi News, 6/15/17

Rojkan, Mira, “Iraqi Forces Recapture Main Entrance to Mosul’s Old City,” Bas News, 6/15/17

Reuters, “Iraqi forces say about to encircle Islamic State in Mosul’s Old City,” 6/15/17

Shafaaq News, “Medical center in Mosul  was attacked after 21 air raids,” 6/15/17

Al-Sumaria, “Ninewa Operations Command announces the liberation of Bab Sinjar neighborhood in West Mosul,” 6/15/17


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