East Mosul’s street lights have been restored six months after section was liberated (Baghdad Post)
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were sweeping west Mosul, while the Islamic State carried out two attacks. First, four policemen were killed in a shooting by insurgents in a market in the west side of the city. Another police officer and an intelligence agents lost their lives to the militants in the east. Six IS members were arrested near the Mosul airport in the southwest carrying weapons and suicide belts. Azzaman reported that IS elements were still in Shahawan and Qalahat in the Old City, and gunfire could be heard in sections of the city, especially at night. A spokesman for the Ninewa Council told the press that IS elements were still in tunnels in the in west, but that they would be cleared out in a few days. The Federal Police claimed they had gone through 80% of West Mosul. The Golden Division is also doing sweeps so it is unclear whether the 80% figure was just for the police or all the ISF. There have not been any stories of combat in the city for several days now. There are occasional terrorist attacks and shootings however, and always stories of arrests. Those show that IS has cells operating throughout the city. Luckily, their operations are sporadic. Whether they increase, decrease, or stay at the same rate in the coming weeks and months will be a good sign of the strength of IS within Mosul.
One big problem with security inside Mosul and Ninewa in general is that there are not enough police, requiring roughly thirty different security forces to protect the governorate instead. A parliamentarian from Ninewa called on the prime minister to return all the dismissed police to Ninewa province. Before 2014, Mosul had 15,000 police and Ninewa had around 32,000 in total. Only a fraction of those on their job today. The province has asked Baghdad before to bring back all these officers before, but it hasn’t. The shortage is in part due to poor capacity within the Iraqi government and lack of planning by the authorities. The government is infamously slow with most matters, and it has never even responded to Ninewa about whether it would re-instate the police force or not. The decision to attack Mosul was also done for political reasons because the premier wanted to take it before the end of 2016. That means there was little to no time for post-IS planning. This has happened in many other parts of the country that have been liberated from the Islamic State as all the emphasis has been on military matters with the political side being left to some underdetermined time.
The Iraqi forces are ready to move on Tal Afar in western Ninewa. Prime Minister Haidar Abadi said that plans were ready for the operation. The ISF is building up forces in Badush in preparation for the assault, which should come in days. The Defense Ministry claimed the campaign has already started with airstrikes. Tal Afar is one of the last areas of Iraq still under insurgent control, and has been surrounded for months.
NPR and NINA reported on the Civil Defense teams working in Mosul. The Civil Defense units are responsible for clearing rubble, rescuing trapped people, and recovering dead bodies. Every morning, people line up at their offices to tell them where they think their relatives’ corpses are located, and teams are sent out to attempt to locate them. So far, they have found more than 1,000 just in west Mosul. On July 24, they found 97 in the Old City’s Qalahat neighborhood. Like many public employees in Mosul, these workers are doing their job without pay. They have not received salaries for three years. Baghdad is cash strapped due to low oil prices, and civil servants in Ninewa have suffered as a result.
Al Monitor provided more information on the two-week long battle to recapture Imam al-Gharbi southeast of Mosul. On the night of July 4, around 160 IS fighters attacked four villages in the Qayara district, seizing Imam al-Gharbi from a local tribal Hashd unit. Most of the insurgents kidnapped a group of locals and headed for Hawija in Kirkuk, leaving behind a small holding force of 40-50 men. They held a three and a half kilometer area. Units from the army’s 9th Division, Rapid Reaction forces from Salahaddin, and elements of the Golden Division were all sent in to re-take the town, supported by helicopters and eventually Coalition air strikes. They claimed to have cleared it several times, when it wasn’t, and initially denied that the town had been taken to begin with. Finally, on July 20 the village was freed. Half the IS members were able to escape to the sections of Shirqat district in Salahaddin still under its control. After the huge victory in Mosul, this was a black eye for the Iraqi forces. The fact that such a small force of militants was able to hold up four different ISF units for such a long period of time reflected poorly on their capabilities. This was not some small isolated town either, as the insurgents were able to cut the Shirqat-Qayara road, and were able to semi-surround the nearby Qayara air base, which is the main transportation and logistics hub in Ninewa, and houses U.S. forces. That’s the reason why the Iraqis tried to play down the fight the entire time.
There were more stories on the stark contrasts between east and west Mosul. In the east, things are moving quickly. Life is largely back to normal, although there are still difficulties. Services are largely restored, shops and schools are open. Street lights for example, have just been turned back on. The west on the other hand is largely destroyed. A team from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the main displaced agency in Iraq that works with the Displacement Ministry and United Nations, did a survey of the western section. There are still destroyed cars blocking streets, craters from shelling and IEDs, and homes destroyed. The U.N. estimated that of 54 residential areas in the west, 15 were completely destroyed with nearly 32,000 houses damaged. 23 other neighborhoods were moderately damaged with almost half the buildings destroyed. The remaining 16 were lightly damaged, but that still meant nearly 16,000 buildings were effected. All five bridges across the Tigris River are destroyed. The medical district in the Shifa neighborhood along the river, which was the main health center for the entire province is 80% destroyed. The U.N. Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq estimated that Mosul might be the largest operation in the world in 2017. The Iraqi government plans on paying for most of the reconstruction from foreign donors via aid, grants, and loans. That will be a steep order as aid groups have been underfunded in the country for years. The U.N. asked for $985 million for its humanitarian operations in Iraq in 2017, and has only received $440 million so far. The IOM requested $28.83 million for Mosul started last year, and has only gotten around 33% of that amount. Baghdad can probably expect similar shortfalls. Germany just announced it would donate another $117 million to help with Mosul. So far Iraq has been pledged in total, around $300 million. The bills for the city alone could top $1 billion.
Arraf, Jane, “Iraqi Civil Defense Workers Recover The Dead From Mosul Battles,” NPR, 7/25/17
Azzaman, “The Iraqi army is mobilizing in the vicinity of Tal Afar and clearing the right bank of Mosul in the last quarter,” 7/25/17
Baghdad Post, “Germany raises aid to Mosul by 100 million euros,” 7/25/17
- “Photos: Street lighting system restored in Mosul,” 7/25/17
Euronews, “Women shed the veil in post Islamic State Mosul,” 7/25/17
International Organization for Migration, “UN Migration Agency: With Mosul Retaken, Donor Support Now Paramount for Thousands of IDPs,” 7/25/17
Iraq Newspaper, "Al-Iraq Reporter In Mosul: Terrorists Assassinated An Officer And An Intelligence Officer In The Palestine Area Of The Left Bank," 7/25/17
- “Al-Iraq Reporter In Mosul: The Terrorists Are Still In The Right Bank,” 7/25/17
Kittleson, Shelly, “Iraqi forces keep up fight for strategic areas south of Mosul,” Al Monitor, 7/24/17
Kotan, Bilge Nesibe, “Why is Tal Afar the Iraqi army’s next target?” TRT World, 7/25/17
Al Mada, “Daash exploited the liberation of Mosul and occupied a village south Qayara a week ago,” 7/13/17
- “Ninewa is perplexed by 30 tribal groups holding liberated lands,” 7/21/17
Markham, Melany, “Five things you should know about Mosul,” Norwegian Refugee Council, 7/25/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Abadi: plan ready for Tal Afar invasion, foreign militants to face justice,” Iraqi News, 7/25/17
- “Police arrest 6 Islamic State militants near Mosul airport,” Iraqi News, 7/25/17
New Sabah, “Call to fight Daash thought in conjunction with the reconstruction of Mosul,” 7/25/17
NINA, “Security Source: 97 Bodies Of Civilians Recovered By Civil Defense Killed By Daesh In The Center Of Mosul,” 7/24/17
Al Noor News, “Four policemen killed in Mosul market,” 7/25/17
Al Rafidain, “Government Forces Are Mobilizing On The Outskirts Of Tal Afar District Of Ninewa Province In Preparation For Retaking It,” 7/25/17
Snell, James, “Iraq’s great victory in Mosul is being undermined,” 7/25/17
Al Taghier TV, “MP Mahasen Mahmoud appeals to the Prime Minister to return the dismissed officers of the Interior Ministry in Ninewa to service,” 7/25/17
Their World, “60,000 children back at school in west Mosul but others are traumatized and hiding,” 7/25/17
Watan News, “Federal police announced clearing 80% of areas of West Mosul,” 7/25/17