American and Iraqi commanders were still talking about the next phase of the Mosul campaign when it already started. December 24 the Iraqi forces (ISF) began operations began. That day the Golden Division attacked Sukar and freed Falah in Mosul, while the army’s 71st and 76th Brigades took Zaytoun, and the town of Qaryat Tawilah. December 25 the Golden, 9th and 16th Divisions entered Quds, Sumer, and Dumiz in east Mosul. Then on December 26 U.S. forces shelled five neighborhoods in the city for the first time. Finally, on December 27 Quds was taken. Sukar, Falah, and Quds have been freed several times before, while Sumer and Dumiz have been fought over as well. The Ninewa Operations Command also discovered six IED factories in Gogjali an eastern suburb of the city. That was the first entered back on October and liberated twice before yet the Islamic State was still operative there.
The Hashd have been inactive for a few days as well, but since December 24 have taken two more towns in the west around Tal Afar including Qameshliyah on December 27.
The U.S. led Coalition destroyed the last bridge connecting eastern and western Mosul. The Old Bridge was hit December 26. There are five spans total across the Tigris River in the city. Two were hit in October, two more in November, and then the Old Bridge twice in December. The Americans took out the bridge to hinder the militants’ ability to traverse the city and bring in supplies and remove their dead and wounded. IS and people of Mosul have been using small boats to cross the Tigris since the bridges were struck.
The Islamic State was also active. It executed 7 people in Mosul, and counter attacked in the Shaimaa neighborhood of the city, along with three towns, one in the south, one in the west, and one in the north. It also seized large parts of the Intisar area of east Mosul before being evicted in heavy fighting. The insurgents continued to force people out of their homes to use them as firing positions.
Finally, the government said 290 families had returned to Gogjali. There were in camps in Bashiqa previously. A few thousand people have gone back since the start of the battle of Mosul, which started in the middle of October. The number of returns has been overshadowed by the one thousand plus displaced each day due to the fighting.
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