The Iraqi forces (ISF) in part are still trying to deny that serious fighting is going on in the Old City in West Mosul. The chief of the Rapid Reaction Division for example, General Thamir al-Husseini told the press that his units were just clearing the district, and there was no fighting going on. Ninewa Operations Command head General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah on the other hand, let it be known that the Islamic State carried out surprise attacks in Shahwan and Qalahat. The fighters came out of basements and tunnels they were hiding in. Those are two neighborhoods along the Tigris River where combat continues. In the rest of Mosul, the ISF are just mopping up, arresting IS elements, and occasionally killing some attempting to escape. In Shahwan and Qahalat however serious combat is still going on.
The Islamic State still holds Imam al-Gharbi southeast of Mosul. The Golden Division, police, army, and local tribal Hashd are all involved in attempting to re-take the town. Coalition air strikes were called in yesterday. July 16 U.S. helicopters were supporting the Iraqi forces. IS made three drone strikes that killed one soldier, one Hashd, and wounded two Hashd and three soldiers. This is a serious battle, which threatens the transportation and logistics hub in Ninewa at Qayara. More units have been called in, the Coalition air support has arrived, and yet the militants have been able to hold them off for twelve days now.
Ninewa Operations Command announced that the ISF were ready to take Tal Afar. That would start by the end of the July. A Ninewa politician said that internal and external forces were trying to get involved and delay the operation. Tal Afar was surrounded months ago by the Hashd. Originally, Turkey complained they would intervene if the Hashd were to seize the town. Then Prime Minister Haider Abadi claimed he gave the ok to attack the village, but nothing happened. The Hashd countered that the premier did not want them in Tal Afar, and sent them to the Syrian border instead. Those issues might be coming up again now that the battle is finally about to get underway.
The United Nations condemned the threats and expulsion of Islamic State families going on in Ninewa and other parts of Iraq. The U.N. called the collective punishment being dealt to IS families an abuse that the government needed to end. In May and June leaflets were distributed in not only Ninewa, but Anbar, Diyala and Salahaddin telling relatives of IS members they had to leave. Hundreds of families were forced out as a result. The United Nations demanded that the government step in and establish the rule of law. Unfortunately, Baghdad is largely absent in most of these areas, and local officials and armed groups are free to carry out whatever types of revenge they want against IS and those associated with it.
The U.N. also updated the displacement situation in Ninewa. It noted that there is a constant movement of people back and forth into Mosul to check the security situation and the state of their homes and property. From July 14-16, around 2,500 went to the city to look on things before leaving again. The number of returns to east Mosul also began to increase again after a lull due to IS attacks. That is giving an incentive to others to go back. In total, around 220,000 displaced have made it back. Two-thirds of those went to east Mosul and the surrounding villages, with the other third to west Mosul. It’s good news that more people are heading to Mosul once again. That had turned into a trickle when the insurgents carried out a string of attacks throughout east and west Mosul. The fear of more has apparently decreased, and that could open the way to a wave of people taking the trip.
Coles, Isabel, “As Islamic State militants routed in Iraq, their families fear reprisals,” Reuters, 7/17/17
Al Ghad Press, “Yarallah: We killed a number of Daesh who were hiding in tunnels in old Mosul,” 7/17/17
Iraqi Broadcasting Network, “Violent Clashes Between Security Forces And Armed Men In Imam Al-Gharbi And Western And American Artillery Intervening,” 7/17/17
Khabaar, “Daesh aircraft attack south of Mosul .. What happened,” 7/17/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “U.N. to Iraq: halt “collective punishment” for suspected IS affiliates,” Iraqi News, 7/17/17
Najjar, Farah, “What will post-ISIL Mosul look like?” Al Jazeera, 7/17/17
New Sabah, “Internal and external parties seeking to transform Tal Afar from military to political issue,” 7/17/17
Radio Sawa, “The Rapid Reaction Units continue to clear the old neighborhood of Mosul,” 7/17/17
Al Sumaria, “Pentagon: Reports of abuses by Iraqi forces in Mosul cannot be confirmed,” 7/17/17
Time, “Battle Tales From Mosul,” 7/17/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 17 July 2017,” 7/17/17