July 20, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) admitted that fighting continued in the Old City of West Mosul. First, U.S. led Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon told Rudaw that there were no reported clashes going on inside Mosul anymore. However, according General Haidar Ali al-Shemari of the Golden Division there were occasional gunfights occurring in the Old City. Those were happening in Qalahat and Shahwan along the Tigris River. Yesterday, a suicide bomber hit a police unit in the former killing three and wounding two. Two more bombers were killed in Yarmouk, which is in the western side of west Mosul showing that there are cells or infiltration going on across the city. Reportedly roughly 1,000 people are still trapped in the district, and can’t escape due to insurgent gunfire. The ISF has banned media from west Mosul so coverage of the on-going combat is getting more and more sporadic. General Shemari’s comments contradict the regular line heard by the government that only mopping up operations are taking place in the city.
West Mosul was not the only sight of gunfire in the city as a Hashd unit got into it with the Ninewa Guards. A shop owner accused the Hashd of robbery, which led to a confrontation with the Ninewa Guards and shooting. A few Ninewa Guards were wounded in the process. This happened in the Hadbaa neighborhood in the northeast. The eastern part of the city and sections of the west are protected by a hodgepodge of groups. Local police, the National Intelligence Service, and various tribal Hashd forces, and a Shabak unit operates in the city. The Ninewa Guards took part in the capture of eastern Mosul, but were then told to leave when the ISF decided to enforce an old arrest warrant against the Guards’ leader ex-Ninewa Governor Atheel Nujafi. Since then, they have moved back into the Hadbaa neighborhood where this incident took place. None of these groups cooperate, and there is competition between them as well. That’s the underlying cause of this clash.
The United States will help the ISF in Mosul by floating balloons fitted with cameras to help secure markets in the city. The Americans have deployed these surveillance balloons before to help its own forces with observations. They will now assist with security inside Mosul.
The Iraqi forces continued with their death inflation for Islamic State fighters. On July 16, General Abdul Amir Yarallah of the Ninewa Operations Command announced that over 25,000 insurgents had been killed during the Mosul campaign. July 19, that was upped to 30,000. To highlight how much the ISF is increasing their counts, back in January the Iraqi Defense Ministry stated that there were only 9,400 IS elements dead and alive in Mosul. General Sean MacFarland, commander of the U.S. Coalition estimated that there were only 15,000-20,000 IS left in both Iraq and Syria in August 2016. The Iraqis now claimed to have killed more IS members than exist just in Mosul.
On the other hand, the Iraqi military criticized a recent report by Patrick Cockburn in the Independent that 40,000 civilians died in Mosul. Cockburn’s story was based upon an interview with former Finance and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari who quoted Kurdish intelligence reports. The figure seems just as bad as the ISF’s death count for Islamic State fighters. The Joint Operations Command countered that the Civil Defense Directorate that removes bodies from cities only uncovered 1,429 in Mosul. The government always increases the number of insurgents killed after battles, and conversely plays down the costs. 1,429 fatalities is a ridiculously low number. In comparison, Musings On Iraq counted 13,106 civilians killed in the city based off media and other reports.
The displacement committee in the Iraqi parliament demanded that Prime Minister Haidar Abadi announce the results of investigations into the killings and abuse of civilians captured on video in Mosul, Diyala, Salahaddin and Anbar. They lawmakers wanted people held accountable for any violations. The Interior Ministry opened an inquiry into alleged abuses in Mosul in May 2017. Anytime there is a major problem in Iraq the government says that it will study it. Nothing ever comes of them as Baghdad is not willing to hold any government official or the security forces responsible. Torture, extra judicial killings, forced displacement, etc. have occurred throughout the war against the Islamic State. Abadi always says he will look into it, but that’s as far as it goes. Lately, he’s been attacking all the reports of abuse as well, which show he is not serious. Acting on any of these cases would be considered a blemish on the security forces and government, and seen as a threat to morale.
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