Battle landscapes in west Mosul (Reuters)
Things are still going slow in trying to capture the Old City district in west Mosul. The Golden Division, coming form the southwest took the Resala and Nablus neighborhoods officially. Some streets were liberated as well, which is a perfect example of how things are progressing.
During the fighting on March 20, a police colonel and 8 officers were captured and killed by the Islamic State. Reportedly they were in a firefight and ran out of ammunition, and were taken by the insurgents. Their bodies were later found.
There are still scattered reports of IS using chemical attacks in Mosul. On March 20 45 people from five neighborhoods were brought in chocking from what they claimed were mortar shells full of gas. None of these incidents has ever been confirmed, but if they were they were likely chlorine as the insurgents have used that agent several times before.
According to Shafaaq News local officials and members of the Iraqi security forces (ISF) were looting in Mosul. Officials were said to have taken several tons of wheat, while soldiers were carting off generators. There were some similar reports of stealing from homes in the city before.
The 9th Division and Hashd were still fighting in the Badush district west of Mosul. A residential complex, and three towns were freed. They are now 15 kilometers away from the Mosul.
Asaib Ahl Al-Haq spokesman Jawad Talabawi was again talking about taking the town of Tal Afar by the Syrian border. He told the press preliminary operations would begin soon and include the Hashd and army. Who will actually take the town is still up in the air between the Hashd and ISF. That issue is unlikely to be resolved until after Mosul is taken no matter what any spokesperson wants to claim.
The displacement crisis south of Mosul continued to get worse. The United Nations had up to 5,000 per day going through the screening checkpoints in Hamam al-Alil. The problem is the camps in that area have had no room for several days now. The U.N. even opened a new one, but it was immediately filled. Now people are setting up tents around Hamam al-Alil or moving to east Mosul. The irony is that there is still space available in Kurdistan, but the authorities are not taking many people there. The government originally told people to stay inside Mosul because it could not take care of them if they left. The intense fighting, heavy civilian casualties, and severe shortages are all forcing people to leave in huge numbers and leading to this dilemma.
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