Heavy clashes continued in the Old City of west Mosul, but with little to no coverage within Iraq. The Golden Division’s General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi repeated the government’s story that the Iraqi forces (ISF) were simply hunting down sleeper cells in the district. The Iraq News Center however reported heavy fighting was going on in Qalahat and Shahwan, which are two neighborhoods along the Tigris River. The Islamic State fighters are hiding in basements and tunnels in the Old City. In one of those twenty IS women were captured with different nationalities. Five of them were suicide bombers. The continued combat in the city is barely being mentioned in the Iraqi media. Instead most of Iraq is just hearing of arrests and occasional shootings of insurgents trying to escape. That’s due to two issues. First, the ISF has barred reporters from west Mosul. Second, almost all Iraqi media outlets just repeat government statements and do not do original reporting.
The fight for Imam al-Gharbi southeast of Mosul entered its eleventh day. Elements of the Golden Division were sent to help the army, Rapid Reaction police and local tribal Hashd to re-capture the town. This has turned into a major battle, which the ISF are trying to play down. The insurgents have severed the main road in the area and are threatening the Qayara air base, which is a major transportation and logistics hub in Ninewa. Iraqi propaganda is also obfuscating what’s going on. When the government counter attacks first started the ISF claimed it had taken anywhere from 50-75% of the village. Later they said only 20-25%. Whatever the real percentage is, the IS is still there.
The joint operations command announced that forces are being mustered and plans being made to take Tal Afar to the west of Mosul. The authorities have been repeating the stories that IS within the town are fracturing between foreign and Iraqi factions. This was part of a larger narrative that the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had died, leading to the break-up of the group. Iraq’s Interior Ministry however have Baghdadi alive in Syria. Overall, reports of the demise of IS are always hard to confirm, and are mostly propaganda.
The Iraqi forces gave another inflated death count for the Mosul campaign. General Abdul Amir Yarallah from the Ninewa We Are Coming command told the press that over 25,000 IS elements had been killed in the Mosul operation. In October 2016 when the battle began western analysts had the figure at anywhere from 2,000-7,500 insurgents in Ninewa. In January, when east Mosul was largely taken the Iraqi Defense Ministry gave its own number at 6,000 militants left with 3,400 killed so far. Iraqi propaganda always doubles, triples, sometimes quadruples the IS fatalities after the fighting is over. The greater the total, the greater the victory that Baghdad can talk about.
Iraq’s Displacement Ministry is hoping that 70% of the displaced (IDPs) will return to Mosul by the end of the year. It said that the longer people stay in camps the worse their situation will be. The ministry knows there is a lack of services in the city, but the government is working on that. It didn’t mention that many homes in west Mosul where most of the IDPs come from are damaged or destroyed. Five months may be too optimistic to believe those will be repaired by then. IS attacks are also spooking many people and deterring them from going back.
Baghdad Today, “The Anti-Terrorism Forces foil an attack by five female suicide bombers in the old city of Mosul in security operation,” 7/16/17
- “Over 25,000 ISIS terrorists killed in battle for Mosul,” 7/16/17
Bergen, Peter, “ISIS leaders may flee Mosul as their ranks are decimated,” CNN, 10/27/16
Bas News, “Iraqi Forces Capture 20 IS Suspects in Mosul’s Old City,” 7/16/17
Euronews, “Liberated Mosul a city of rubble,” 7/16/17
Iraq News Center, “Urgent violent clashes in the areas of Qalahat and Shahwan in old city Mosul and heavy air strikes in conjunction with fighting,” 7/16/17
Iraqi Newspaper, “Iraqi Newspaper Reporter: Canceling Victory Over Mosul Ceremony By The Ministry Of Defense For Unknown Reasons,” 7/16/17
- “Iraqi Newspaper Reporter In Mosul: Anti-Terrorism Forces Arrive In Shirqat To Free Imam al-Gharbi Village,” 7/16/17
Knights, Michael, “The Liberation of Mosul Will Go Better Than You Think,” Foreign Policy, 10/17/16
Al Maalomah, “Defense: Daesh lost more than half of its members on the left bank,” 1/25/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “IS leader Baghdadi still alive in Syria: Iraqi interior ministry official,” Iraqi News, 7/16/17
New Sabah, “Large military preparations for the liberation of Tal Afar coinciding with a significant breakdown in morale amongst Daesh members,” 7/16/17
Rudaw, “Minister predicts most Mosul IDPs to be home soon,” 7/16/17
Shafaaq News, “Iraqi military commander: Those who remain inside Mosul will be treated as Daash,” 7/16/17
Wardana, “Al-Saadi: Continued search for cells in right bank in Mosul,” 7/16/17