(Medecins Sans Frontieres)
As the Iraqi forces (ISF) moved into south Mosul itself their advance slowed down. In the rural villages in the lead up to Mosul there was not much resistance, but now that the city has been reached IS is fighting back with its usual mix of mortars, snipers, drones, and car bombs. General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi of the Golden Division said that movement was very slow.
The army, police, and Golden Division were still engaged in Mamun, Wadi Hajar, and Tayaran in the southern tip of the city. The 9th Division did take the power station in Yarmouk, which supplies all of Mosul. Fighting and defending in Mamun was difficult because the streets were not laid out in a grid, making it difficult to block routes to protect against car bombs. IS also flooded part of the neighborhood to impede the movement of the ISF. The insurgents have been forcing people out of their homes to convert them into fighting positions. The ISF claimed that the Islamic State set some buildings on fire when people refused to leave them. IS has always put up an effective urban defense. It has been unable to sustain it over the long run however.
As the government forces reached the city, civilians began to flow out. Reuters reported that around 1,000 people were seen leaving. Many were not from Mosul itself, but were actually from southern towns that were taken as human shields by the Islamic State. One family was from Hamam al-Alil for instance and had been forced into Mosul four months ago by the insurgents. No matter their origin, the ISF were screening all the men as usual looking for IS members.
In the west the Hashd freed four more villages in the Tal Afar district. The Hashd’s main job during the campaign has been to cut the Islamic State’s supply lines reaching west from Mosul to Syria. It is supposed to take Tal Afar itself sometime, but it has not moved on the town yet.
The Hashd also released video footage claiming to be the United States parachuting supplies to IS in the Tal Afar area. Earlier they claimed that U.S. planes had dropped arms and ammunition to the insurgents in the same area, and was helping IS leaders escape. Many of the Hashd units in the west are pro-Iranian and have made these types of charges against the Americans since 2014. It is part of their standard propaganda to undermine the U.S. presence in Iraq.
A few miles south of Mosul the ISF found a mass grave called the “horror hole”. Residents said that IS executed hundreds of people and dropped them into a huge pit outside the village of Athba. The non-governmental organization Iraq Observatory for Human Rights claimed that there could be up to 5,000 people at the site.
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- “Iraqi forces seize key power station that supplies electricity to entire Mosul,” 2/25/17
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