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
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Mosul Campaign Day 267
Interesting that during WWII, little regard for the civilian population was given to the carpet bombing of major German cities and the fire bombing of Japanese cities. Hundreds of thousands died in fire driven maelstrom.
For the west at least the nature of war has changed and they are fare more sensitive to civilian casualties than they once were. A lot of the ideas about strategic bombing such as breaking the will of a country were proven wrong in WWII and Vietnam, so military doctrine in the west has changed as a result. For other countries it's different because of their histories.
It's interesting that critics point to the carpet bombing of Germany and Japan as indifferent to civilian suffering when those very populations supported the targeting of civilians on a far vaster scale with respect to the Holocaust and the Japanese killing frenzy. The Japanese killed two million people with the samurai sword. The Japanese were eating people. That seems worth a mention when you speak of regard for civilian life. And, really, the Allies stopped civilians from being killed by ending the war while Japan and Germany promoted it.
Strategic bombing certainly worked in Japan after some 60 cities had been burned up, culminating in the atom bombings. They surrendered before one invading soldier stepped on the beach. Ten weeks of bombing persuaded Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic to surrender in Kosovo.
Strategic bombing never worked in Germany and many think dropping 2 A-Bombs on Japan proved that it did in Japan. I would argue otherwise.
Joel, on your first response to William Casey; not to mention the fact that Japan and the US were virtual equals in warfare, give or take. We are fighting an light infantry force which we outnumbered 20-30:1 in Mosul,outgunned, and had air superiority over. Carpet bombing an entire neighborhood to dust to take out 5 snipers on a rooftop when you hold such a vast preponderance of force signals systemic issues with your military in the case of the ISF and reliance on such tactics throughout the fight
Anonymous, I agree that there could have been better use of air strikes in Mosul. I think the Iraqi shelling was much worse as much of it was indiscriminate. Finally, there was no carpet bombing. U.S. led Coalition used smart bombs. Iraqi forces don't have capability to carpet bomb even if they wanted to.
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