The Iraqi military is still pushing the narrative that the Islamic State is a defeated force. The Defense Ministry released a statement that the Iraqi forces (ISF) have inflicted heavy losses on IS and drained its forces. Commanders continue to say that will mean west Mosul will be easier than the east. This has been the government’s line since the ISF reached Mosul. There are constant stories of IS fleeing the city to Syria, Iraqi and foreign fighters clashing with each other, etc. It’s still impossible to tell how the actual battle will go down.
The Hashd is pushing its own propaganda. A captain from the forces told Rudaw that his unit had been given the job of securing Mosul University. The Joint Operations Command just said that only the ISF would be in the city so it’s yet to be seen whether this report was true or not. In a similar vein spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi said that the Hashd were preparing to assault west Mosul. They have been making this claim with increasing frequency, but Prime Minister Haider Abadi said from the start that they would not take part in the battle inside the city. Former Ninewa Governor Atheel Nujafi’s Hashd al-Watani was included in the northern front and did enter the city, but they have since been told to leave because of an arrest warrant against Nujafi. Where there is no question about the Hashd role is west of Mosul in the Tal Afar district. There they are increasingly interested in Baaj. This is where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other IS commanders have reportedly been staying for months now, which means the Hashd are more and more interested in attacking the area and seeing what is there.
The population of east Mosul is suffering constant attacks, and now there are complaints of looting. During January 31 IS mortars, rockets, drones, and mines killed 28 people, and wounded another 14. This has become the regular daily news from the liberated side of the city. Iraq Oil Report heard from people in several neighborhoods who said that people have been robbing houses, shops, and public buildings. They have blamed this on people in uniform. Since the ISF is the only force throughout the city this must be members of the army, police or counter terrorism forces.
Finally, the Oil Ministry announced that another burning well in Qayara was put out. The Islamic State was forced out of the area in August 2016 and lit the oil fields on fire in the process. So far workers from the North Oil Company and international firms have put out 18 wells. There are still 7 ablaze. This has been an environmental disaster for the area as toxic fumes have been spreading through the area for six months now.
AIN, “Video..Field commanders: freeing west Mosul will be faster,” 1/31/17
Georgy, Michael, “With Islamic State gone, East Mosul residents face uncertain future,” Reuters, 1/31/17
Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Jan. 31, 2017" 1/31/17
Al Maalomah, "The death of a man and his son in landmine explosion planted by Daesh east Mosul," 1/31/17
- “Popular crowd has special teams to meet Daesh in west Mosul,” 1/31/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, "IS attack foiled in eastern Mosul, IED kills 3 children in the west," Iraqi News, 1/31/17
Otten, Cathy, “Trapped Mosul civilians in dire need of relief,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 1/31/17
Rudaw, “Crews extinguish flames at one oil well in Qayyara, 7 still burning,” 1/31/17
- “Hashd al-Shaabi providing security after looting at Mosul University,” 1/31/17
Shafaaq News, "Wounding four civilians who were bombed by Daesh in the liberated areas of Mosul," 1/31/17
Sotaliraq, "Three children killed by a booby-trapped home west Mosul," 1/31/17
Al Sumaria, "Killing six civilians bombed by Daesh on left bank of Mosul," 1/31/17