Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 157, March 22, 2017


The Iraqi forces (ISF) were still slowly but surely pushing into the Old City district of west Mosul. The Golden Division attacked the Yabsaat, Yarmouk, Rajim al-Hadid and Wai al-Ain areas, while the apartments in Yarmouk were freed. There was still fighting in Nablus and Resala, which were officially declared cleared yesterday. The Federal Police were also forced to retreat in Jadid due to Islamic State attacks. That neighborhood was freed on March 12. There were also heavy clashes in Bab al-Tob. So far the ISF have only penetrated into the perimeter of the Old City. Poor weather has limited air support. The dense layout of the sector has meant the Iraqis usually have to dismount and move street to street, house to house. IS is also putting up a stiff defense.

The army and Hashd are still going through the Badush district to the west of the city, where a town and a bridge were reached. These units are supposed to eventually reach Mosul itself, but at the pace their moving they may just stay on the perimeter.

Medecins Sans Frontiers, a French aid group warned that casualties flowing out of Mosul were overwhelming medical facilities. There is a lack of medical care in and outside the city, and the group had seen more than 1,500 urgent care patients in the last two months from the conflict. The government and NGOs have tried to set up trauma centers close to the front with more serious cases being sent to Irbil. The number of dead and wounded has been much higher in east Mosul than the east however straining resources. On March 22 for example, there were 254 civilian casualties reported from IS mortar fire and Coalition and Iraqi air strikes.

There is a constant flow of people in and out of Mosul. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that on average 9,000 people per day were being screened at Hamam al-Alil, up from 5,000 just a few days before. The camps to the south of Mosul are overflowing, but some space has opened up as 1,007 families went back to east Mosul. Some of the displaced (IDPs) coming out of the western section of the city are also being redirected to the east because there is no room for them in camps. IDPs talk about the lack of food and medicine, sky rocketing prices because of shortages, and heavy casualties as the reason why so many people are fleeing the city. The government wanted people to stay inside Mosul because neither it nor aid groups had the resources to deal with a large number of people, but that has not happened and a humanitarian crisis is brewing as a result.

Najaf and Hashd groups have organized aid convoys to deliver supplies to the people of Mosul. Reuters noted that this was being met with a mix of relief and apprehension by residents. A former and a current Ninewa councilman, and a man voiced concerns about Hashd groups coming into the city feeling that they were trying to assert their power in the city. Baghdad did not allow any Hashd units to take part in the assault on Mosul because of fears of the citizens that they might carry out abuses that have happened in other parts of the country during the war against the Islamic State. Even when those groups are trying to help the population they are still suspicions about their intentions.

Finally, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a paper on the mass grave discovered in a sinkhole near the town of Khafsa. It interviewed several residents who said that they had witnessed IS executing people there from 2014-2015. Satellite photos showed that the group filled in the site between March to June 2015. The area is very dangerous since the militants left behind IEDs along the perimeter. HRW called on Baghdad to seal off the site so that it can be thoroughly excavated, a memorial be created, and support given to the families of the victims.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "IS shells 2 areas south of Mosul, 20 casualties," Iraqi News, 3/22/17
- "Security forces kill 15 IS militants, arrest others in central Mosul," Iraqi News, 3/22/17
- “Security forces liberate 2 new villages north of Badush,” Iraqi News, 3/22/17

AIN, "Take control of Badush bridge and free the water station," 3/22/17

Associated Press, “UN says Mosul displacement gathering pace as Iraq battles IS,” 3/22/17

Baghdad Post, "Iraq's forces retook all of Yarmouk apartments area in Mosul," 3/22/17
- "Security forces storm three neighborhoods in Mosul," 3/22/17

Davison, John, “Shi’ite aid convoys enter Mosul, bringing relief and suspicion,” Reuters, 3/22/17

Deutsche Welle, “Mosul’s displaced: ‘I’m at the end of my years and have to live in a tent,’” 3/22/17

Hassan, Hamuda, "Islamic State shells recaptured areas in west Mosul," Reuters, 3/22/17

Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: ISIS Dumped Hundreds in Mass Grave,” 3/22/17

Iraq News App, "A surprise attack by the Islamic State in west Mosul," 3/22/17

Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: March 22, 2017,” 3/22/17

Medecins Sans Frontieres, “Iraq: Thousands of wounded and sick coming from western Mosul,” 3/22/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Defense media says Iraqi forces recaptured two districts in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 3/21/17
- “Federal police take hold of Mosul Old City’s passageways,” Iraqi News, 3/22/17
- "Four casualties in IS mortar shelling in central Mosul," Iraqi News, 3/22/17
- "Iraqi army advances further in western Mosul, 2 civilians wounded by IS mortars," 3/22/17
- “Iraqi army recaptures IS command in northwest Mosul, kills 40 fighters,” Iraqi News, 3/22/17

Rudaw, "US-trained Iraqi forces reclaim two districts near Mosul's Old City," 3/12/17

Shafaaq News, "After four hours of fighting..Iraqi forces regain positions in Bab al-Tob," 3/22/17
- "Search for more than 100 civilians under the rubble of dozens of houses in Mosul," 3/22/17
- "Source: 38 civilians killed by indiscriminate shelling of neighborhoods by Daash in Mosul," 3/22/17

Al Sumaria, "21 civilians killed and wounded by mortar shells southwest Mosul," 3/22/17

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation UNHCR Flash Update,” 3/21/17

World Bulletin, "Iraqi forces take two more villages in W. Mosul: Army," 3/22/17


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