The third day after Mosul was declared liberated major fighting was finally coming to an end. There were some scattered clashes going on in the Old City, which wounded 2 soldiers, but didn’t seem as serious as previous days. Otherwise, the Iraqi forces (ISF) freed a Yazidi family that had been held hostage by the Islamic State in the Old City’s Maidan neighborhood. Four IS members were killed trying to escape across the Tigris River. On the other hand, IS cells were still operating in other parts of the city. A suicide bomber was shot in a market in the west. Five suicide bombers infiltrated into Tanak in the western edge of west Mosul when they got caught by security. They hold up in a house where one set off his device, while the others died. Four ISF lost their lives during the confrontation. Finally, mortars were fired at a power station in the east killing three and injuring two. In the previous two days there were air and helicopter strikes, mortar fire, etc. By July 13 things finally seemed to turn towards mopping up operations. Cleaning up the sleeper cells however will likely take quite some time as they are still operating in the east, which was freed six months ago.
The Iraqi forces were accused of committing beatings and executions in Mosul. Death squads were reported to be operating in Mosul, wearing Iraqi forces uniforms, and driving ambulances hunting down IS suspects. Six armed men went to the house of a muezzin, stripped and then beat him. Four videos were posted on Facebook showing members of the ISF punching and then executing IS members. One was members of the army’s 16th Division killing IS elements in the Old City. Another showed several people being roughed up, and then one was pushed off a ledge, and shot multiple times along the banks of the Tigris River. Human Rights Watch has gotten more reports of abuses, extrajudicial killings, and torture in recent weeks. It believed that the ISF were becoming more brazen and open about their actions as the Mosul battle was coming to an end. During the last three years there have been similar cases throughout the country during each campaign. Not only has Baghdad done nothing about it despite several investigations, many cases that have appeared on social media have been cheered by the public as revenge against the Islamic State. These acts are not only bad for the discipline of the Iraqi forces, but are dehumanizing Iraqi society as violence against not only IS elements but their families are being accepted and celebrated.
Now that the fighting is over the process of clearing the city is underway. The head of the State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement told the Washington Post that it could take years to remove all the unexploded ordinance in Mosul. IS planted IEDs throughout the city, but there is also a huge amount of bombs and mortars shells that did not go off as well. A major problem is that there are not enough trained personnel and resources to do this job. The Iraqi government has used western contractors in other cities, but the size of Mosul and the amount of ordinance makes this extra challenging.
For the eighth day, the Iraqi forces were still trying to re-take Imam al-Gharbi in the Qayara district southeast of Mosul. Units from the army’s 16th Division, the Rapid Reaction Division, and Hashd were attacking the village in the third day of an offensive. The insurgents were also threatening the nearby Qayara air and logistics base, and were said to have cut the main road in the area as well. There are only a few dozen gunmen in the district, yet they have held off the ISF for all this time despite the serious hazard they pose.
Reuters talked with people in a displaced camp. None of them wanted to return to Mosul because they feared that it was too unstable. One woman said she would rather go live with her relatives in Kurdistan than go back to the city. She said that she was exhausted by the conflict. The United Nations has found a similar sentiment in the rest of Ninewa. The IS sleeper cells have spooked many, and the rate of returns has gone down as a result in the last few weeks. The insurgents have been operating in liberated areas of the city for six months now. Until that changes, the flow of people back to their homes can be expected at only a trickle.
The first aid for Mosul was being declared. The United States offered $150 million last week, and another $119 million for humanitarian work on July 13. China congratulated Iraq on its victory, and said it would appropriate around $12 million for rebuilding. The United Nations estimated that just returning basic services to the city could cost around $1 billion. The Iraqi government also has a $100 billion, ten-year plan in the works for reconstruction of the entire country. Baghdad is looking towards more donations, loans from the World Bank, and investments to pay for these projects. They may find it difficult to raise those amounts given the small figures they have received so far.
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