The Iraqi army is completing the last phase of the operations in east Mosul. The 16th Division freed the last part of Arabi a two-part neighborhood in the northeast. The Iraqi Forces (ISF) originally attacked the area on January 16 and had been declaring it liberated everyday since. There are two parts to Arabi and the reports were not distinguishing one from the other. The army is also taking on Rashidiya the last district of east Mosul still under Islamic State control. The Division took Qawsiyat a town in Rashdiya. It is a rather large area, so it may take a few days to completely liberate.
In the central section of east Mosul the Golden Division is clearing areas and a Shabak Hashd brigade is to be deployed to help with that effort and hold the area. The Hashd were supposed to stay out of the city, but probably because there is a manpower shortage of police to stay in the liberated areas as the army and Golden Division shift to attacking west Mosul this unit was deployed. It is also not a Shiite Arab unit so that might be a factor as well. Many people in Mosul said they were afraid of Shiite Hashd forces committing abuses.
Iraqi and American commanders gave some of their thoughts on why IS was routed after the Mosul campaign got back underway at the end of December. One major factor was the bombing of the bridges across the Tigris. That cut down the number of car bombs IS could deploy. At first these were armored behemoths that were hard to destroy. Later they were regular civilian cars. Knocking out the bridges also meant IS could not re-supply. The Iraqi forces found fewer arms caches the farther they pushed into the city. There were also fewer IS fighters due to attrition and the bridges being down. Finally, the Golden Division carried out night raids that took out IS commanders.
Hundreds of IS fighters are trying to get across the Tigris River which divides the two halves of the city. The U.S. led Coalition announced that it destroyed 90 boats and three barges trying to ferry insurgents across the waterway over three days in the third week of January. The Iraqis have destroyed a number of these vessels as well. That would imply that the Iraqi and Coalition forces are making a concerted effort to take out as many IS fighters as possible while they are vulnerable in the water.
Out west the Hashd are still announcing a sixth phase of operations there. The Hashd surrounded Tal Afar weeks ago, but the ISF is in no rush to take the town leaving the Hashd in a holding position. That leaves them to attack the small towns in the district.
The Islamic State is destroying the areas it is fleeing while attempting to maintain control in the western half of the city. The 16th Division said it saw burned homes and cars in the northeast. Residents reported that IS fighters were destroying property as they were retreating and attempting to block streets with wrecked vehicles. The group destroy two water pumping stations to deny services to neighborhoods, which local officials are now attempting to repair. Continuing with its mini-scorched earth policy IS blew up the Mosul Hotel in the west, the second largest in the city. It is also stepping up security, stopping people from gathering in large groups, shutting down stores, executing people, etc. On top of that the western half of the city is suffering from a lack of services, and sky rocketing prices.
The United Nations’ Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released a statement asking the government to look into a video that showed the ISF abusing and killing three captured IS fighters in central east Mosul. This is not the first time such incidents have come to light, and it will not be the last. In turn, Baghdad can’t be expected to take any action because the authorities don’t investigate nor take these matters seriously, and it might hurt morale and its image if they did.
The Associated Press ran a story on what the fight for west Mosul might be like. General Sami al-Arithi told AP that the ISF had not come up with a strategy yet. U.S. General Joseph Martin believed that the narrow streets and densely packed neighborhoods would make the fight more difficult than the east. In previous articles Iraqi commanders have expressed the view that west Mosul will be easier than the east, while the Americans have been more pessimistic. As of now it’s impossible to tell which way the battle will go.
In that same article, Ninewa officials gave their own casualty assessments. They estimated roughly 5,000 civilians inside Mosul had been killed and wounded so far, while 1,600 troops were injured or dead in the total operation. Only 187 ISF fatalities and 218 wounded have been reported inside the city. However 2,809 dead and 13,301 injured civilians have been mentioned with most of the latter coming from hospitals in Irbil reporting figures to the U.N. The real cost of the campaign will likely never been known as the Iraqi government is not known for transparency on such issues.
Adel, Loaa, "Army's 16 brigade destroyed 17 car bombs north of Mosul," Iraqi News, 1/16/17
George, Susannah, “Iraqi forces eye tougher fight in Mosul’s west,” Associated Press, 1/21/17
Hemid, Leyla, “Iraqi Forces Make Further Gains Against IS in Mosul,” Bas News, 1/21/17
Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Jan. 19, 2017," 1/19/17
Al Maalomah, “Military said that Shabak popular crowd brigade given duties,” 1/21/17
- “Talabawi: Popular crowd fully prepared for the sixth stage and waiting for the zero hour,” 1/21/17
Al Mada, “Army frees Arabi neighborhood, killing 27 Daash northern left bank,” 1/22/17
- “Daesh takes revenge on the people of liberated neighborhoods by burning homes,” 1/22/17
Michaels, Jim, “Coalition warplanes take out Islamic State fleet in Mosul,” USA Today, 1/21/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Islamic State blow Mosul’s 2nd biggest hotel, 12 members killed,” Iraqi News, 1/21/17
- "Most Islamic State commanders in Mosul already killed, Iraqi general says," Iraqi News, 1/19/17
- "UPDATED: Iraqi forces retake 2 northern Mosul regions, very close to recapturing east," Iraqi News, 1/21/17
New Sabah, “After losing the left bank..Daesh take unprecedented measures on the right bank in Mosul,” 1/21/17
- “Daesh commits nearly hysterical crimes against the population of the right bank in Mosul,” 1/21/17
- “One neighborhood separates the joint forces from the complete liberation of the left bank of Mosul,” 1/21/17
Al Sumaria, “Member of the Nineveh Council: Daesh burned two water pumps in Mosul,” 1/21/17
UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, “UNAMI Calls on Government to Investigate Report of Torture and Murder of Captured Terror Suspects in Mosul,” 1/21/17
Xinhua, "Iraqi forces continue fighting at last IS strongholds in eastern Mosul," 1/22/17
- "Iraqi forces fight to defeat last IS strongholds in eastern Mosul," 1/21/17
- "Iraqi forces seize main part of eastern Mosul from IS," 1/18/17