Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 215 May 19 2017

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) continued to push east and south towards the Tigris River and the Old City district respectively. The Rawsahn neighborhood was freed by the Golden Division, while the northern section of Tamuz 17 was brought under control. The problem with the latter is that the ISF claimed to have liberated all of Tamuz 17 twice before. The Iraqis are on the verge of taking Mosul, yet still exaggerate their gains. The victory narrative pushed by Baghdad since 2014 seems to require positive news be reported everyday both real and imagined.

Iraqi President Fuad Masum called the damage done to Mosul “horrendous”. He didn’t know how much it would cost to rebuild the city, but thought it would be considerable. East Mosul had a few districts that were heavily shelled and bombed, but much of the west appears to be destroyed.

The Hashd took another village in western Ninewa. It also announced that a tribal force that had worked with the Peshmerga switched to its side. Nayef Jassim Qassim took his unit form the Mindikan tribe and joined the Hashd in the Sinjar district on May 18. This is exactly why the Kurds have complained about the Hashd’s presence in Sinjar. They are already competing with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Yazidi groups for hegemony over the area, and now the Hashd have entered and are freeing towns, and turning locals to their side further complicating things. That could lead to a military confrontation with the Peshmerga if the Kurds decide to seize areas to block the Hashd or a political controversy or both.

Rudaw talked with the brother of the Ninewa governor who was filmed in an Islamic State video giving it baya and denouncing anti-IS forces. Sheikh Faisal Hamadi appeared in an insurgent film on April 7 attacking his brother the Ninewa governor and the Peshmerga, and giving allegiance to the Islamists. He claimed he would have been killed if he didn’t cooperate. He now lives in Irbil. The fate of individuals like the sheikh will be a big issue after Ninewa is freed. There are many that would want to arrest Hamadi and put him on trial for instance. So far there is no government reconciliation program or ideas on how to deal with pro-IS individuals or collaborators. 

Displaced continued to face more problems. The United Nations had 376,230 people registered as displaced (IDPs). There are many more that never signed up. Their numbers are rising quickly with the new fighting in northwest Mosul. From May 11-18 over 80,000 came out of the city. Many, after they were screened, moved to east Mosul to be near their homes. Now around 5,000 have left the east due to a lack of jobs, and have moved to Kurdistan. A smaller group of IDPs are going back to west Mosul as well. From May 10-17 around 2,500 moved there. The U.N. estimated that up to a 1/3 of the displaced lack their government documents. Without them they can’t get aid or safely move around the country. The organization has gotten mobile courts to visit camps in Kurdistan to attempt to address this issue. It was just a month ago when more people were leaving camps than arriving. Now that trend has been reversed. The IDP situation has ebbed and flowed depending upon the violence in Mosul. Soon the city will be liberated and people will start heading back to their home areas once again.


Associated Press, “Iraq president says scale of Mosul destruction ‘horrendous,’” 5/19/17

Baghdad Post, "Iraqi forces recapture 3 new districts in Mosul's right bank," 5/13/17

Al Forat, “The popular crowd liberates the village of Qahira south of Qayrawan,” 5/19/17

George, Susannah, “Airstrikes fuel Mosul gains as Iraq pushes for quick victory,” Associated Press, 5/19/17

Gibbons-Neff, Thomas and Salim, Mustafa, “The Islamic State’s last stand in Mosul will test the best of Iraqi forces,” Washington Post, 5/19/17

Kurdi, Mahmud Yasin, “Brother of Mosul governor recalls betrayal of family under ISIS,” 5/19/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Iraqi forces retake Rawshan area in western Mosul: command," Iraqi News

Mostafa, Nehal, "Iraqi troops recapture half of biggest western Mosul district," Iraqi News, 5/19/17

New Sabah, "Freed Iqtisadin and Tamuz 17 in West Mosul," 5/17/17

Tomson, Chris, “Kurdish Unit Defects to Iraqi Army Ranks in Nineveh Province,” Al Masdar, 5/18/17

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 18 May 2017,” 5/18/17

Valmary, Simon, “On Mosul’s front line, Iraqi refuses to quit beloved home,” Agence France Presse, 5/19/17

Xinhua, “Iraqi forces push further in western Mosul amid heavy clashes,” 5/19/17

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