Families taking boats across the Tigris from west to east Mosul. Flooding has taken down the one pontoon bridge across the river in the city (Reuters)
The new northern thrust into west Mosul paid more dividends. The last section of the Mesherfa neighborhood was freed, along with Kanisa and Harmat 1. There were reports of fighting going on in some of the recently liberated areas. That is normal as the Islamic State often retreats and then re-infiltrates into a sector of the city. On April 28, the chief of staff of the army General Osman al-Ghanami said that the battle for Mosul would be over in three weeks. On May 6, he upped that to just a few days. This is common Iraqi propaganda. The War Media Cell told the press that the campaign was going according to plan and that losses had been within expected limits. It went on to attack social media claiming that lies and fabrications were being spread about the battle. The Iraqi military has been increasingly defensive about any criticism of its work. The deputy head of the security committee in parliament said that the Islamic State’s defenses were broken in northwestern Mosul leading to a much quicker advance. The new advance into northern Iraq has stretched the Islamic State’s forces. For most of the fight it has relied upon relatively small units to hold up the Iraqi forces. Now its forces are spread between both the center and northern section of the city. The Iraqis could be making even faster progress if they could coordinate better and attack along all fronts at the same time. Right now all the movement is in the north and there is little going on in the center and Old City in the east.
In the last several weeks there have been heavy rains in Ninewa. That has flooded the Tigris River and forced the military to take down a pontoon bridge they constructed in the southern section of Mosul. That has greatly hindered the movement of people trying to escape west Mosul to the east. They are now taking small boats across the waterway. The Iraqi forces (ISF) were supposed to deploy their own boats, but they have no gas. The ISF has poor logistics so this should come as no surprise. The bad weather originally hit outside the city cutting off Hamam al-Alil to the south, but the Tigris has continued to fill and is now affecting Mosul itself.
The Associated Press wrote about the severe food shortages hitting the parts of Mosul under Islamic State control and ones right along the front lines. In both areas there is little in the way of nourishment, and few aid groups are operating there because it is too close to the fighting. One family talked about collecting plants from a park and mixing them with rice and tomato paste to make a soup. A relative of theirs ran out of food all together. Even in Wadi Hajar that was freed at the start of March there are limited supplies and aid arriving. The United Nations and others have consistently warned about the humanitarian crisis inside the city. Displaced coming out of Mosul can attest to the tough conditions as many are suffering from malnutrition.
There were several articles on rebuilding Mosul. The Washington Post went to a pool hall that re-opened. Under IS these shops were closed. Now people can to go to them, although many lack the funds to do so. This represents both the freedom people now have and the slow recovery of businesses. Al Monitor talked about how people were still getting their pensions in the city, which was one of the only sources of money. Some government workers have also finally been paid. Mosul like the rest of Iraq is completely dependent upon public pay, and until that is restored the economy cannot fully recover. Rudaw reported on the Ninewa government restoring services. There are dozens of teams working to return power to the city. Around 100,000 residents have been reconnected to the national grid, although they are receiving only around one-third of their needs. 1,300 generators have also been shipped to east Mosul to help. The people of Mosul have shown great resilience during this period. Many are working on their own to bring back the city. The government has finally started stepping in with the water and electricity systems. The problem is that the authorities don’t have a real plan nor the funds on how to proceed.
The people of Ninewa are similarly trying to rebuild. Agence France Presse was in the Christian town of Qaraqosh where people are slowly starting to return. The Archbishop of Mosul Yohanna Petros Mouche moved back in April as a symbolic gesture to let people know it was safe. The town was taken by the insurgents in August 2014, and immediately almost all the 50,000 residents fled. Small groups are now back. There are no services and the government is not present. That has led the church to organize reconstruction. It has used satellite photos to chart out the damage in the city, made plans on what needs to be repaired, and is raising money for the work. Like Mosul much of the reconstruction in the province is being done by local groups. They are not waiting for the authorities since there is no telling when they might step in. Again, people are taking matters into their own hands in the absence of the government.
Aboulenein, Ahmed, “Flooding forces Mosul residents to flee war in rickety boats,” Reuters, 5/6/17
Abu Zeed, Adnan, “What’s holding up the liberation of Iraq’s Tal Afar?” Al Monitor, 5/5/17
Agence France Presse, “In ruins of Iraq Christian town, fires a sign of rebirth,” 5/6/17
AIN, “Army chief confirms the liberation of West Mosul before Ramadan,” 4/28/17
Associated Press, “In Mosul, hunger grows amid slow advances against IS,” 5/6/17
Baghdad Post, “Mosul to be fully liberated within few days: Military official,” 5/6/17
- “Rapid Response Forces advance northwest of Mosul,” 5/6/17
- "Security forces liberate 3 neighborhoods in right bank of Mosul," 5/4/17
- “Security forces storm 1st Mushayrifa, Wadi Ekab districts in,” 5/6/17
Buratha News, “Parliamentary security committee: Terrorist lines breaking in Zinjali and July 17 and withdrawing to Farouk,” 5/6/17
- “War Media Cell: The battle fo the liberation of Nineveh going taccording to plan and within expected losses,” 5/6/17
Al Maalomah, “Freeing the first Mersherfa and continuation of penetration into the July 30 neighborhood in Mosul,” 5/6/17
Al Mada, “The army opens a new axis to break the rigidity of the operation in the right bank of Mosul,” 5/6/17
- “The security forces fully liberated Mesherfa and units are moving into July 30,” 5/7/17
Morris, Loveday, “Smoke-filled pool halls are back in Mosul. After ISIS, ‘we seek joy.’” Washington Post, 5/6/17
Mostafa, Nehal, "Iraqi troops declare full liberation of Mesherfa region, western Mosul," Iraqi News, 5/6/17
- “Update: One region, 50 percent of another retaken upon fierce clashes between troops, militants,” Iraqi News, 5/6/17
Neurink, Judit, “Mosul civil servants still waiting to be paid,” Al Monitor, 5/5/17
New Sabah, "The joint forces penetrate 500 metesr and control several building the Harmat neighborhood in Mosul," 5/6/17
Rudaw, “Iraqi forces gain ground northwest of Mosul after intensive fighting, army,” 5/6/17
- “Mosul races against time to restore electricity before summer heat waves,” 5/6/17
Sobir, Shoguna, "Iraqi Forces Retake Further Areas in West Mosul," Bas News, 5/6/17
Xinhua, “Iraqi forces gain more in new push in western Mosul,” 5/6/17