The pace of operations in Mosul has lessened slightly after the recent gains. Northwest Mosul was quickly freed after a new front was opened by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Now there are just a few neighborhoods left under Islamic State control along the Tigris River. The Federal Police were fighting in Tamuz 17 and the Old City district. The former was declared freed three times before, but apparently still has Islamic State elements. Prime Minister Haider Abadi also called on the Golden Division to help take the rest of the city. Last week the unit declared that it had accomplished all its goals in the campaign, but it never stopped fighting. Reinforcements have arrived as well to the Old City for the final push. There is a slight pause in the offensive against the insurgents as the ISF consolidates its hold, and reloads and rearms before they make their last drive.
Der Spiegel published an article by an Iraqi photographer and film maker who followed members of the Rapid Reaction Division (RRD) during the Mosul campaign and accused them of torturing and killing prisoners. The photographer met two members of the RRD during the fight for Fallujah in 2016. When the battle for Mosul started, he accompanied them through several towns outside the city. During that time, he witnessed prisoners being tortured, and was told that many of them had been killed afterward. The Interior Ministry ordered an investigation into the charges, while the RRD complained that the story was completely false. Iraqi social media is also accusing the author of making up his account. It would not be surprising at all to find cases of abuse as the ISF are notorious for beating and torturing people for all types of crime even ones not related to terrorism to obtain a confession. It would be hard to believe that they stopped these practices now.
The Hashd started the second phase of their west Mosul operation. They just seized the town of Qayrawan, which was their first goal. They are now moving into the towns in the west. Their next major goal is to seize Baaj, where many IS elements were suspected of fleeing to when Mosul was attacked, and then to ultimately get to the Syrian border. This move will bring continued criticism from the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Sinjar, which feels that the Hashd are attempting to move into their territory and create conflicts with them over their authority in the area.
The United Nations continued to record a large number of people flowing out of Mosul. From May 19-23 over 46,000 fled west Mosul. The majority, after being screened in Hamam al-Alil were choosing to move onto east Mosul. The Iraqi government just opened a new camp south of the city, which it turned over to the U.N. to manage. Additional sites are being added to that location for 60,000 more people. Another camp is being constructed next door for 30,000. All the camps south of the city are full or at capacity except for the new one. There is plenty of room to the east and north, but the Iraqi government is not informing people of them, nor providing transportation. The overcrowding and the restrictions in the camps are a major reason why so many are choosing to go to east Mosul instead. The U.N. and others are afraid of another huge flood of people when the rest of Mosul is taken. They are already feeling overwhelmed by the current situation, and the Iraqi government is mismanaging things on top of that.
Baghdad Post, “Abadi orders counterterrorism forces to regain rest of Mosul right bank,” 5/24/17
- "Iraqi forces recapture 3 new districts in Mosul's right bank," 5/13/17
Bas News, “Iraqi Forces Control 97% of West Mosul, 350 IS Militants Remaining,” 5/24/17
BBC, “Iraq investigates alleged abuses by Mosul troops,” 5/24/17
Cordaid, “Frontline Distributions in West Mosul,” 5/23/17
Der Spiegel, “Not heroes but monsters,” 5/23/17
Mostafa, Nehla, “Police control IS “legislative court of the soldiers state” in western Mosul,” Iraqi News, 5/24/17
New Sabah, "Freed Iqtisadin and Tamuz 17 in West Mosul," 5/17/17
Press TV, "Iraqi govt. forces retake control of two key districts in west Mosul," 5/20/17
Reuters, “Iraq orders investigation into abuses reported in Mosul battle,” 5/24/17
Shafaaq News, “Special combat forces to break into last Daesh stronghold in Mosul,” 5/24/17
Al Sumaria, “The popular crowd announces the start of a second operation to liberate the remaining villages of western Qayrawan,” 5/24/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 23 May 2017,” 5/23/17
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Mosul Humanitarian Crisis, 22 May 2017,” 5/22/17