More details came out on the ambush of the 9th Division in the Wahda district of southeast Mosul. On December 7, a force from the 9th Division attacked the Wahda area and found little resistance. Rather than clear the area a decision was made to drive on the Salam hospital. When they reached the facility the Islamic State beset them on all sides. 15 Suicide car bombs along with mortar and small arms fire killed at least 20 soldiers and wounded many more. One soldier told the Associated Press he thought everyone in his unit was either killed or wounded in the fighting. The Golden Division organized a rescue force from the east and got the soldiers out. The Joint Operations Command tried to paper over the setback by claiming they withdrew to stop the hospital from being damaged. That must have been why U.S. airstrikes were called in to hit the facility to cover the Iraqi forces (ISF) retreat. The Coalition said it saw no civilians in the area when it struck the hospital. A nurse at Salam said that was because all the staff and patients fled to the basement to avoid the fighting. They could have easily been killed or wounded in the bombing. It appeared this was an attempt to make a pincer movement and encircle the center of east Mosul. The Iraqi command had been talking about a change in strategy, and this may have been part of it. Unfortunately it did not work out.
On December 8 the Golden Division made more advances. Two more neighborhoods were attacked. General Fazil Barwari from the unit said that his forces were 3.5 km from the Old Mosul Bridge and the Tigris River that divides the city. Its taken them more than a month however to get that far, and it doesn’t appear the advance will be any quicker in the coming days and weeks.
The Federal Police in the south clashed with IS in the south. It said it attacked some insurgent positions, killing some fighters, and destroying vehicles and three tunnels. An officer stated that they had finally cleared the entire southern front, but it was not apparent whether the fighting was anything more than a skirmish or an actual move on Mosul.
In the west, the Hashd freed a town and relayed their future plans. Tal Abta was taken, a town, which the Hashd said they had liberated two days before. That was probably when they arrived in the area. The Iraqi forces have a bad habit of getting caught up in their own victory narrative and declaring areas freed before they have even been attacked. A spokesman for the Hashd told the press that the town would be used as a launching point to head towards the Syrian border. The goal of the Hashd was to reach Tal Afar and cut off Mosul from Syria. They will not be allowed to go into the town itself due to the tensions and political complaints it might create, so they now have a new mission of heading west. The taking of Tal Afar itself is delayed like the rest of the Mosul campaign. Army and Federal Police units are supposed to liberate it, but nothing has been done so far.
The U.N. delivered supplies to east Mosul again, setting off another mini-riot. Trucks arrived in Zuhur with aid. When civilians found out they pushed through a gate and climbed a wall to the distribution center forcing police to fire into the air to gain control over the situation. This was the second time this has happened marking bad preparation by the authorities, as well as the growing desperation of the population for basic necessities, which are growing scarce due to the fighting.
Finally, there has been more reporting on casualties recently. For the week of December 1-7, 60 incidents were reported leading to 231 dead made up of 28 Hashd, 43 soldiers and 160 civilians. Another 754 were wounded consisting of 77 soldiers and 677 civilians. 30 car bombs hit the Iraqi forces and residents with another 27 destroyed. Probably more occurred than were reported.
Al Aalem, “A spokesman for the popular crowd: Tal Abta will be a springboard for the liberation of all the areas towards the Syrian border,” 12/8/16
Associated Press, “A lethal mistake leads to a harrowing ambush in Iraq’s Mosul,” 12/8/16
Al Maalomah, "Popular crowd frees Tal Abta fully west of Mosul," 12/8/16
Al Mada, “Counter terrorism forces in the health district eastern hub of Mosul,” 12/8/16
- "Counter terrorism forces remain in the health district in the eastern hub of Mosul," 12/8/16
Mostafa, Mohamed, "Al-Hashd al-Shaabi liberate Tal Abta in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/6/16
NINA, “Federal Police forces liberated the entire southern area axis and stationed close to 3 km from the center of the city of Mosul,” 12/7/16
Rasheed, Ahmed, Hameed, Saif, and Coles, Isabel, “Iraqi troops pull out from Mosul hospital after fierce battle,” Reuters, 12/8/16
Rudaw, “UPDATE: Coalition admits targeting ISIS in Mosul hospital,” 12/8/16
- "We will reach the Tigris soon, says Iraqi commander in Mosul," 12/8/16
Al Sumaria, “Federal Police announce killing 19 terrorists and destroyed three tunnels south of Mosul,” 12/8/16