Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 44, Nov 29, 2016


The Iraqi forces were still fighting across eastern Mosul. Zuhur was declared freed, but a Rudaw correspondent said that when the day was over there were still clashes going on there. This is the second time the area has been said to be liberated. The Golden Division was also trying to clear Zahra that was freed on November 9 and then re-cleared on November 12. Hadbaa, Falah, Barid, Nassir, Mufti, Salam, Younis Sabawi, and Palestine were still being fought over, even though Falah was liberated two days before. In total, 41 neighborhoods have been entered in Mosul. 20 of those appear to be secured, and 21 contested. Progress is obviously being made, but it has been very difficult.

One of the major reasons why so many neighborhoods continuously come under attack is the Islamic State’s tunnel system. Military officials told Newsweek that there were around 15 km of tunnels in the areas freed in east Mosul. They estimated that there might be up to 70 km total of underground systems in that half of the city. This network allows IS to constantly re-infiltrate areas and attack the Iraqi forces from the rear.

On the other hand, IS’s defenses have been hindered. The U.S. coalition has hit the five bridges spanning Mosul. That has limited the group’s ability to move between the two sides of the city, and its attempt to use boats and other means to cross the Tigris River have been hampered by airstrikes. That has meant there are fewer car bombs, and that its wounded cannot be evacuated.

Reuters also reported that the humanitarian situation in eastern Mosul was declining. A major pipe was hit during the fighting cutting off water to around 40% of the residents in that half of the city. There is also a lack of electricity, food and other basic supplies. There have been stories of shortages in the western side of Mosul as well. This is another situation that is likely to continue to deteriorate

In the north and south things remain stalled. In the southwest, southeast and north the Iraqi forces were still clearing buildings and roads of IEDs. The Rapid Reaction Force did free one town. There has been very little movement on these fronts overall. The 9th and 16th Divisions, along with police units were supposed to be in Mosul days ago, but have been stuck in the surrounding towns and made little headway. Some of those forces are going to be diverted to take Tal Afar to the west, others may be shifted around as well as there is a growing belief that the campaign plan is going to be revised.

Speaking of Tal Afar the Hashd cleared five new towns in that district. Two mass graves of people executed by IS were also discovered in the area.

There have been other stories of abuses by both sides. The United Nations said that 12 civilians were shot by IS on November 11 for refusing to allow the militants to use their houses in the fighting. The group executed another 27 people on charges that they were working with the government. Amnesty International (AI) interviewed residents of a few towns in the south and east who said the Hashd and tribal fighters had humiliated, beaten, and tortured them for being suspected IS members. In one town, the Hashd split the men from their families, made them strip, and then bark like dogs, while they were called names. Tribal fighters were also accused of looting, and some bragged to AI that they had blown up houses.

There are some disagreements about how long the Mosul campaign will take. Prime Minister Haidar Abadi was interviewed by the Associated Press and told them he sticks by his promise that Mosul will be liberated by the end of 2016. A growing number of military commanders say that is still months away. General Najm Jabouri for instance thought it could take six months to complete the operation.

Finally, displacement from Mosul has gone up again. On November 29 the International Organization for Migration recorded 73,908 had been registered. The week before there were roughly 68,000 displaced. That went up to 73,000 by November 28. Since the Iraqi forces have entered Mosul the number of displaced has more than doubled. As further areas are penetrated those figures will continue to climb.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "Iraqi forces storm into 3 new neighborhoods in Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/15/16

BBC, “Mosul Iraq battle: IS accused of shooting civilians,” 11/29/16

Eltahawy, Diana, “ISIS Abuses and Militia Revenge Attacks Paint Grim Picture of Mosul Offensive: Amnesty,” Newsweek, 11/29/16

Al Forat, "Freed pristine neighborhood in the left side of Mosul," 11/29/16

International Organization for Migration, “IOM Iraq Emergency Tracking: Mosul Operations DATA SNAPSHOT: 29 November 2016,” 11/29/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 12, 2016," 11/12/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 27, 2016," 11/27/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 29, 2016," 11/29/16

Laessing, Ulf and Chmaytelli, Maher, “Water cuts and rising food prices leave Mosul facing crisis,” Reuters, 11/29/16

Al Maalomah, “Information published on the position of the daily operations from Nineveh we are coming,” 11/29/16

Al Mada, “Military leadership is considering Al-Anzalat option to speed up left coast operations,” 11/29/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

New Sabah, "Military units continue to advance and liberated several neighborhoods in Mosul," 11/29/16

Phillips, Ian and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “AP Interview: Iraqi leader predicts IS collapse in Mosul,” Associated Press, 11/29/16

Rudaw, “Iraqi army edges closer to Tigris River in Mosul; retakes new neighborhood,” 11/29/16

Al Salhy, Suadad, “What Lies Beneath,” Newsweek, 11/30/16

Al Sumaria, “Found two mass graves with dozen of bodies of people executed by Daesh west of Mosul,” 11/29/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces clear areas freed from IS in eastern Mosul," 11/9/16


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 43, Nov 28, 2016


The Iraqi forces (ISF) reported more progress on November 27. The Golden Division entered Barid and freed Falah, both new neighborhoods in eastern Mosul.

In comparison, on November 28 the division was mostly fighting over areas it had gone through before. Two new neighborhoods were declared liberated, but one of them Qahira, had been cleared before. There was also fighting in Qadisiya, Zuhur, and Salam all of which were freed previously, along with Nassir, Mufti, Younis Sabawi, and Palestine.

There was little movement on the other fronts. The 9th Division freed Kissar to the southeast. The Federal Police in the southwest were still clearing buildings and roads.

The slow progress in the north and south, and the heavy fighting in the east is making the military re-think its plans for taking Mosul. The Golden Division is just 3 km from the Tigris River, and has taken the brunt of the fighting. The 16th Division is 10 km from Mosul in the north and has largely stopped advancing. It did send a brigade to assist in eastern Mosul. Part of the 9th Division is 2.5 km from south Mosul, while other elements of the division are with the Golden Division inside the city. An officer in the 9th said that it was nearly exhausted from all the fighting that it had gone through so far. With two fronts stalled and mounting military and civilian casualties there is lots of pressure to reconsider the campaign plan. That has already happened before. Originally, there were six separate thrusts towards Mosul. At the start of November that was reduced to just three and the shifting of some forces around. Similar modifications may be coming soon.

Reuters reported that the Islamic State was arresting shop owners accused of raising their prices. There have been several stories of major shortages affecting the city’s population, and the militants appear to be afraid that may cause unrest, which is leading to the new crackdown on businesses.

The Christian Science Monitor talked with a few Christians who were displaced from Bartella, which was freed at the start of the Mosul campaign. The Islamic State swept through the town in August 2014. One family said that they tried to escape to Kurdistan, but were stopped at a checkpoint and imprisoned. There they were told to convert to Islam, and when they eventually agreed they were let go. At the two prisons they were held at they reported constant beatings and an execution. Another family was tortured and beaten for not knowing their prayers and for not showing up often enough to the mosque. Almost all of the Christians in the areas of Ninewa seized by the Islamic State were driven off two years ago. Now their homes areas are being liberated, and the big question will be how many are willing to go back.

For some reason Reuters decided to write an entire article based upon a conversation with Khamis Khanjar. He is a Dubai based businessman who was one of the major financiers of the Iraqiya party in 2010. Since then he has established his own list and hopes to become a new Sunni leader in the provincial and parliamentary elections scheduled for 2017 and 2018 respectively. Khanjar warned that if the Hashd were to entire Mosul they could massacre and abuse the populace. He then said that the Nujafi’s Hashd al-Watani and the army should be leading the campaign. So far the Hashd are far away from Mosul in the west, surrounding the town of Tal Afar. The Hashd al-Watani on the other hand have done little, and will likely be kept out of the fight because of the Nujafis bad relations with Baghdad and their ties to Turkey, which has been deeply critical and confrontational during the entire operation.

Finally the number of displaced took another jump. For several days the displaced however around 68,000, but that went up to 75,720 according to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees. Almost all of those, roughly 72,000 are from the Mosul district. The U.N. said more people are fleeing the city itself with some 4,000 leaving just on November 24. 2,031 Iraqis also fled to Syria since the start of the campaign. After these people reach the Iraqi forces they have to be vetted. There are lots of complaints about how long civilians can be held before they are cleared or arrested, along with lots of accusations of false claims about family members being IS members or sympathizers. This must be done, but the sheer size of the task is daunting along with the inconsistencies of the process means it will always be long and imperfect.

SOURCES

ARA News, "Over 50 ISIS militants killed, 32 taken captive as Iraqi forces step up Mosul operations," 11/27/16

Chick, Kristen, “Their town now liberated, Iraqi Christians talk of life under ISIS,” Christian Science Monitor, 11/28/16

Al Forat, "Popular crowd set off a car bomb during its progress towards the southern village of Mifalakh," 11/28/16

Hasan, Harith, “Electoral race heats up among Iraq’s Sunni factions,” Al Monitor, 4/17/14

Hendawi, Hamza and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraq military’s limit are showing in the drawn-out battle for Mosul,” Associated Press, 11/28/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Nov. 21, 2016," 11/21/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 27, 2016," 11/27/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 28, 2016," 11/28/16

Al-Khalidi, Suleiman, “Iraq could split if Shi’ite militias enter Mosul – Sunni politician,” Reuters, 11/28/16

Knights, Michael, “IS conflict: Battle for Mosul on schedule, but not exactly to plan,” BBC, 11/2/16

Laessing, Ulf, “Islamic State arrests shopkeepers for hiking prices in nearly besieged Mosul,” Reuters, 11/28/16

Al Maalomah, “Information published on daily position of military operations to liberate Mosul,” 11/28/16

Al Mada, "Counterterorrism imposes its control over two regions in east Mosul," 11/28/16
- “Military leadership is considering Al-Anzalat option to speed up left coast operations,” 11/29/16

Al Masalah, “Iraqi forces hunt terrorists among the displaced people of Mosul,” 11/28/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

Schreck, Adam, “Iraqi Sunnis accelerate push to make their voices heard,” Associated Press, 12/1/15

Al Sumaria, "Nineveh we are coming dlecares freeing Zab Al Kasr village and raising the Iraqi flag over it," 11/28/16

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: Flash Update – 27 November 2016,” 11/27/16



Monday, November 28, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 42, Nov 27, 2016

Five not four neighborhoods in eastern Mosul were freed on November 25. That makes a total of 39 areas entered in the city with 19 freed, and 20 still contested.

Progress in Eastern Mosul Neighborhoods
Total Entered: 39
Freed: 19
Still Fighting: 20

On November 27 the Iraqi forces were mostly consolidating their positions, while the Hashd were still busy around Tal Afar. The latter freed two more towns west of Mosul. The Federal Police in the southwest were clearing IEDs. The 9th Division was still fighting over five neighborhoods in eastern Mosul, and the Golden Division several others. The 16th Division in the north was also clearing towns it had liberated.

Martin Chulov of the Guardian talked with people who had returned to Gojali in eastern Mosul. One man said there was no power or water in his home, but he was still trying to push forward. Another person talked about how they were expecting the worse form the Iraqi forces, but they had not acted badly, and now they were accepted. Several small businesses were trying to re-open although supplies were sometimes sparse. At the same time, the neighborhood came under gun and mortar fire while Chulov was there showing that it was not completely safe yet.

SOURCES

ARA News, "Over 50 ISIS militants killed, 32 taken captive as Iraqi forces step up Mosul operations," 11/27/16

Chulov, Martin, “’We want to live again’: Mosul’s defiant citizens refuse to leave home,” Guardian, 11/26/16

Al Maalomah, “Daily information published by the We are coming Nineveh operations,” 11/27/16

Al Masalah, "Freed three neighborhoods in Mosul and two villages in Tal Afar," 11/26/16

Shafaq News, "Statement: freed two villages west of Mosul and relative calm on the rest of the fronts," 11/27/16


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 41, Nov 26, 2016


More information became available about events that occurred on November 25. The Golden Division attacked the Amin neighborhood, while both Qahira and Masarif were freed.

On November 26, there was fighting in the Bakr, Zuhur, Intisar, Judaydat al-Mufti, Salam, Younis Sabawi, and Palestine areas of the city. That was a perfect example of the back and forth battle for the city. Judaydat al-Mufti was originally attacked on November 1, Younis Sabawi on November 11, and Palestine on November 13. Salam and Zuhur have been liberated once each, and Bakr and Intisar have been freed twice. So far the Golden Division and 9th Division have entered 38 neighborhoods of eastern Mosul. 22 of those appear to still be contested, while 16 have been secured. As the events above show however, many of those areas declared freed often get re-infiltrated by the Islamic State.

Progress in Eastern Mosul Neighborhoods
Total Entered: 38
Freed: 16
Still Fighting: 22

On other fronts, the Hashd and Iraqi forces continued to move forward as well. The Hashd went through six towns in the west, and elements of the 9th Division freed one more in the southeast. Elements of the 15th Division and the Ninewa Federal police will have the task of taking on Tal Afar itself. On the other hand, based upon their own statements the Iraqi forces are two weeks behind reaching Mosul itself from the north and south. The Golden Division was the first to reach the city. Instead of waiting for the other units to catch up it moved forward opening itself to attacks from the flanks and rear. Eventually, units from the 9th Division and a separate brigade were shifted to eastern Mosul as well as they were stuck in towns in the south. Two weeks ago the rest of the 9th Division said it would be attacking Mosul airport, and the 15th Division Hadbaa neighborhood in the north. While the Golden Division was always going to take on the bulk of the fighting the push into the north and south was supposed to spread out the Islamic State’s forces. Instead it has been able to focus upon the east. There have been no new timetables released for when the 9th and 15th are supposed to reach their original targets in Mosul.

Finally, the United Nations’ World Health Organization gave another glimpse into the casualties being generated by the on going campaign. It said that 1,200 civilians had been treated for injuries since the start of the Mosul operation on October 17. Since the government is censoring its losses these types of stories can only hint at what is really going on. They show that a huge amount of people have been killed and wounded, with only about a third of Mosul having been entered.

SOURCES

Associated Press, "IS mortars kill 16 Iraqi civilians in Mosul," 11/26/16

BBC, "Mosul battle: Iraqi PM rallies forces and issues warning to IS," 11/5/16
- "Mosul battle: Iraqi special forces enter city limits," 11/1/16

Face Iraq, "Daesh executed 15 civilians and blew up houses in Mosul," 11/26/16

Al Forat, "Popular crowd: destroyed two car bombs on the outskirts of western Tal Afar, west Ajabour," 11/26/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 1, 2016," 11/1/16
- "Inside Mosul: Nov. 13, 2016," 11/13/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 21, 2016," 11/21/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 25, 2016," 11/25/16

Al Maalomah, "Information published in daily briefing on We are coming Nineveh military operation," 11/26/16

Al Mada, "Breaking into eight districts and increases pressure on Daesh on the left coast," 11/11/16
- "Counter terrorism forces enter three neighborhoods on two axis in left coast of Mosul," 11/25/16
- "Unexpected operation to free the rest of Sinjar in the light of the agreement between the popular crowd and the Peshmerga," 11/27/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

NINA, "Abu Nakhla village liberated south of Tal Afar," 11/25/16
- "Al-Tufaha village liberated west of Mosul," 1/25/16
- "Two new villages liberated west of Mosul," 11/25/16
- "Urgent..The popular crowd started the fifth phase for the liberation of western Mosul operations," 11/25/16

Rudaw, "ISIS leader among militants killed in Mosul district," 11/20/16
- "Two more mass graves found in Shingal, bringing total to 29," 11/26/16

Shafaq News, "Popular crowd repels broad Daesh attack west of Tal Afar,' 11/27/16

Sotaliraq, "Injured a war photographer following battles west of Mosul," 11/27/16

United Nations Radio, “Mosul casualties mount as offensive continues,” 11/25/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces clear areas freed from IS in eastern Mosul," 11/9/16
- "Iraqi forces continue fighting IS militants in Mosul," 11/26/16


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 40, Nov 25, 2016


There were more advances in Mosul and around Tal Afar. The Golden Division attacked three areas of eastern Mosul. One, Qahira, was originally entered on November 20, while the other two neighborhoods were brand new. In the west, the Hashd liberated four more towns. Baghdad was putting together units from the army and Federal Police to take Tal Afar. Originally, the Hashd said they would seize the town, but a deal was made to have the security forces do it instead to assuage Turkey and Turkmen that had objected, claiming that the Hashd would set off sectarian tensions.

The government was considering changing its stance towards taking Mosul, while the Islamic State cut off services. Originally Baghdad dropped flyers over the city telling the residents to stay in their homes. That was because the authorities and non-governmental organizations had nothing in place to accommodate large amounts of people fleeing the city. Now, those citizens are hindering the battle to seize Mosul. The Iraqi forces (ISF) have complained that they cannot use artillery and air strikes as much as they would like out of fear of causing civilian casualties. Now the ISF is advocating for calling on the populace to leave the battlezone. On the other side, a member of the Ninewa council reported that the Islamic State cut off water to the neighborhoods liberated in eastern Mosul.

SOURCES

AIN, "Popular crowd frees Khudair village southwest of Tal Afar," 11/25/16

El-Ghobashy, Tamer and Nabhan, Ali, “Iraq Commanders Weigh Tactical Shift in Mosul,” Wall Street Journal, 11/24/16

Hameed, Saif, “Iraq readies force to storm flashpoint town near Mosul,” Reuters, 11/25/16

Al Mada, "Counter terrorism forces enter three neighborhoods on two axis in left coast of Mosul," 11/25/16

Al Masalah, “Daesh cut off water for neighborhoods liberated in Mosul,” 11/25/16

NINA, "Al-Tufaha village liberated west of Mosul," 1/25/16
- "Urgent..The popular crowd started the fifth phase for the liberation of western Mosul operations," 11/25/16

Rudaw, "ISIS leader among militants killed in Mosul district," 11/20/16

Shafaq News, "Popular crowd announced the freeing of four villages and killed 13 Daash west of Mosul," 11/25/16

Friday, November 25, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 39, Nov 24, 2016


The 9th and Golden Divisions were still churning through eastern Mosul. On November 24 the Zuhur and Kadrah neighborhoods were freed. Zuhur was originally attacked on November 20, while this was the fifth time Kadrah was declared liberated. Some of the division was also being taken off the line and replaced with a new battalion. The Iraqi forces have issued no casualties, but the unit has faced the brunt of the fighting in Mosul and likely has taken a lot of losses.

So far the Iraqi forces have reached 36 neighborhoods in eastern Mosul. Of those, 7 have been freed and appear to be under control. 17 have been liberated multiple times and look like they are still contested. 12 have been attacked at least once.

The U.S.-led Coalition finished off Mosul’s bridges. The city is bisected by the Tigris River, which has five spans across it. The last bridge was blown up in an air strike.

The New York Times ran a piece about how the civilians in Mosul are complicating the battle. The government dropped leaflets telling people to stay in their homes. There was no real choice in that matter as the government and aid agencies had no way to take care of the population if it did try to leave. The article also mentioned that the military planners did not want to level the city as happened in Ramadi. Those residents are now a major impediment to the fight. The Iraqi forces can’t use their artillery and air strikes as much as they want out of fear of collateral damage, and the Islamic State is also using civilians as human shields and to re-infiltrate areas.

In the west the Iraqi forces rather than the Hashd will take Tal Afar. A spokesman for Asaib Ahl Al-Haq said that the Hashd was ready to take the town, but another spokesman added that was not possible for political reasons. Besides Turkey, which has been very vociferous on the issue, the Iraqi Turkmen Front also stated that the Hashd should stay out of Tal Afar because they would set off sectarian tensions. That issue should now be resolved as the army is to move in.

Kurdish President Massoud Barzani commented on the disputed areas in Ninewa once again. All the territory taken by the Peshmerga before the Mosul campaign would remain under Kurdish control he said, but the area liberated since then by the Kurds would be up for negotiation. The U.S. helped negotiate a deal between Baghdad and Irbil so that they would cooperate in the offensive, which included the Kurds giving up any land they took. Since then Barzani and other Kurds have said they would keep everything, but now the president is trying to back down from those statements.

Finally, the number of displaced has leveled off. The International Organization for Migration reported that from November 20-24 68,000 have left their homes and registered with the authorities. On November 19 there were 61,674 displaced. That went up to 68,520 on November 20, and has stayed around that level since then with 68,660 on November 21, 68,112 on November 22, 68,340 on November 23, and 68,964 on November 24. Another 7,116 people have gone back to their homes in areas that have been liberated.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "Joint forces continue liberating 6 areas in western coast of Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/17/16

Arango, Tim, “Iraq Told Civilians to Stay in Mosul. Now They’re Paying With Their Lives,” New York Times, 11/24/16

Bas News, “Barzani: Peshmerga Won’t Retreat from Pre-October 17 Libearted Areas,” 11/24/16
- “Iraqi Turkmen Front Warns against Militia’s Incursion into Tel Afar,” 11/24/16

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factshhet 4# - Mosul Operations From 17 october to 24 November,” 11/24/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 1, 2016," 11/1/16
- "Inside Mosul: Nov. 12, 2016," 11/12/16

Al Maalomah, “Asadi confirms that the popular crowd will not enter Tal Afar because of political pressure,” 11/24/16
- “Popular crowd declares readiness of its troops to storm the center of Tal Afar,” 11/24/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, “Airstrikes destroy last bridge linking Mosul’s west, east,” Iraqi News, 11/24/16
- "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

Rudaw, “Fresh troops relieve soldiers from three weeks of intense battle in Mosul,” 11/24/16
- "ISIS leader among militants killed in Mosul district," 11/20/16
- “Shiite forces poised on edge of Tal Afar, won’t enter city, spokesman says,” 11/24/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces clear areas freed from IS in eastern Mosul," 11/9/16
- "Iraqi forces free more districts in eastern Mosul," 11/4/16

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mosul Campaign, Day Thirty-Eight, Nov 23, 2016


There were no new advances announced in eastern Mosul on November 23, 2016. The Golden and 9th Divisions were still fighting over some of the newer neighborhoods it entered into over the last few weeks. Qahira was attacked, which was initially entered on November 20. There was also continued fighting in Mufti, Salam, Sabawi Younis, Palestine and Nassir. Younis Sabawi was originally attacked on November 11, Palestine on November 13, and Nassir and Mufti on November 17. In the more secure areas, the Golden Division was also trying to dismantle IEDs. A general from the unit told the press that the Islamic State was weakening, but that wasn’t apparent from the news.  

A few casualties from the city were reported. 6 civilians were killed and 30 wounded by Islamic State mortar fire, and a sniper killed two more. The day before IS was said to have beheaded 15 soldiers it captured. CNN talked with a Peshmerga commander, U.N. and health officials that hospitals in Irbil were receiving up to 80-90 casualties per day, mostly civilians. Authorities said that the health centers in the city were being overwhelmed by the amount of people arriving finding it difficult to find enough beds and medicines for them.

To the west the Hashd cut the road from Mosul to Sinjar and onto Syria. It still had not encircled Tal Afar, but the ensuing battle for it was leading almost all of the families that resided there to flee. Around 3,000 were said to have left with half heading towards Syria and the others going towards Kurdish held areas.

In the southeast the 9th Division freed several more towns including Qara Tapa.

Finally, air strikes took out a member of the IS leadership and another bridge in Mosul. There are five bridges that cross the Tigris River. A fourth one was hit by the U.S. led Coalition. The Americans are hoping to limit the ability of the militants to travel across the city. An air strike was also believed to have killed the Islamic State’s Minister of Information for Ninewa Ziyad Kharufa.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "ISIS shelling kills 6 civilians, wounds 30 others near Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/23/16

Agence France Presse, “Iraq forces cut off IS-held Mosul from Syria,” 11/23/16

ARA News, "Islamic State executes 15 Iraqi soldiers in Mosul," 11/23/16

BBC, “Mosul battle: Iraq militias ‘cut off IS access to city,’” 11/23/16

Coles, Isabel and Hameed, Saif, “Civilians flee as Shi’ite fighters near flashpoint town near Mosul,” Reuters, 11/23/16

Dewan, Angela and Tawfeeq, Mohammed, “Mosul completely surrounded by Iraqi-led troops, paramilitary forces say,” CNN, 11/23/16

Al Forat, "Al Forat Announces incursion into five neighborhoods on Mosul's left coast, and continued clearing of Tal Afar Airport," 11/17/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 13, 2016," 11/13/16

Al Maalomah, "Martyrdom of two displaced people by criminal Daesh sniper east Mosul," 11/23/16

Al Mada, "Breaking into eight districts and increases pressure on Daesh on the left coast," 11/11/16

Al Masalah, "Ninewa We Are Coming declares freeing eight villages in the western axis," 11/23/16

New Sabah, "Break in the fight against terrorism in Qahira, one of the largest neighborhoods in the left coast of Mosul," 11/23/16

Rudaw, "Iraqi army makes gains southeast of Mosul," 11/23/16
- "ISIS leader among militants killed in Mosul district," 11/20/16


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mosul Campaign, Day Thirty-Seven, Nov 22, 2016


The Golden Division reached one more sector of eastern Mosul, but was mostly trying to clear what it already gained. Zuhur was the newest neighborhood breached by the elite division. Otherwise the unit was trying to consolidate its areas, which have seen constant fighting since the city was reached on October 31.

The Hashd were still trying to encircle Tal Afar to the west. In the process it freed five new villages. When the forces do reach the town, it is likely to set off another round of threats from Turkey that has warned that it does not want the Hashd to take the village.

Iraq Oil Report received news that the water in the western half of the city has been shut off. There have also been stories of food shortages and the lack of other basic necessities.

Finally, the number of displaced has leveled off in the last few days. When Mosul was reached on October 31, there were 17,748 displaced registered with aid groups. When the Iraqi forces pushed farther into the city that number skyrocketed to 61,674 by November 11, and then 68,520 on November 20. By November 22 that figure had slightly dropped to 68,112. Of that total, 59,208 or 86.9% are from Mosul, and 98% are residing in Ninewa province. Still, only a small fraction of Mosul has been reached so far. As the Iraqi forces push farther in, more people are likely to flee.

SOURCES

Bas News, "Iraq Forces Liberate New District, Nearing Center of Mosul," 11/22/16

Al Forat, "Popular crowd frees northern village of Sharia," 11/22/16

International Organization for Migration, “IOM Iraq Emergency Tracking: Mosul Operations, Data Snapshot: 22 November 2016,” 11/22/16

Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: Nov. 22, 2016,” 11/22/16

Al Maalomah, "Hezbollah Brigades liberated three villages and the road link between Tal Afar and Sinjar," 11/22/16

Xinhua, “Iraqi paramilitary forces launch operation to encircle IS-held Tal Afar,” 11/22/16


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mosul Campaign, Day Thirty-Six, Nov 21, 2016


Two new areas of eastern Mosul were freed. The 9th Division was able to clear Salam and Abbas in the northeast of the city. Salam was originally attacked on November 11, while Abbas was just reached. The Golden Division was trying to secure the neighborhoods it had already reached, conducting house-to-house searches. Together the two units have entered 36 areas of eastern Mosul. Almost all of them remain contested however as the Islamic State has been able to re-infiltrate and counter attack in nearly all of them.
This Rudaw Map shows areas that the Golden and 9th Divisions have entered in eastern Mosul. Red is for secured, Pink is contested. Many of the Red areas however are still witnessing fighting.

The U.S.-led Coalition took out one of the major bridges in Mosul. The Tigris River bisects the city, and there are five major spans across it. The Coalition has now knocked out three trying to limit the ability of the Islamic State to traverse the Mosul.

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made progress in the north and south as well. The 9th Division freed five towns in the south, and the 16th Division coming down from the north liberated three more. Both forces were talking about reaching Mosul itself last week, but didn’t. When they do they will help take the pressure off the Golden Division and elements of the 9th, which are facing the brunt of the heavy urban fighting within the city.

The authorities have not been releasing their losses as usual, but the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) did provide a small sample. From October 18 to November 12 it recorded 379 people, 59 civilians and 320 military personnel going to Irbil for treatment.

Finally, there was still blowback from some parties in Baghdad against comments made by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. On November 14, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman mentioned that Kurdistan had agreed to withdraw from all the territory that it liberated during the campaign as part of a deal Washington helped negotiate between Baghdad and Irbil. Two days later, Barzani said that the Kurds had no intention of leaving any Kurdish areas. The prime minister’s office reminded Barzani that their agreement was still in effect, and then Barzani replied that his statements were not translated correctly, and that Irbil would honor the deal. Later, comments by a member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq were posted on social media saying that the army and Hashd could take the ground from the Peshmerga. Barzani’s office hoped those remarks were not true, but also went on to say that Baghdad had tried using force of arms against Kurdistan many times, but had always failed. During the war with the Islamic State, the Kurds have been able to occupy almost all of the disputed territories they claim as historically theirs. The status of those areas will have to be negotiated after Mosul is freed. Barzani is such an unpopular figure however, that whenever he talks about them he just inflames the situation.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, "Iraqi troops search for suicide car bombs in eastern Mosul," Associated Press, 11/21/16

Adel, Loaa, "Security forces fully liberate Humayra village in Nineveh," Iraqi News, 11/21/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Nov. 21, 2016," 11/21/16

Al Mada, "Breaking into eight districts and increases pressure on Daesh on the left coast," 11/11/16

NINA, “U.S. Ambassador To Baghdad: Peshmerga Would Withdraw From All The Liberated Areas After liberating Mosul,” 11/14/16

Rudaw, "Iraqi forces make further gains north and south of Mosul," 11/21/16
- “Kurdish presidency: Shiite leader’s remarks sound like Saddam, ISIS,” 11/21/16

World Health Organization, “Mosul Operation: Casualty cases to Emergency and West Hospital-Erbil, Iraq (from 17 October to 12 November 2016),” 11/21/16


Monday, November 21, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day Thirty-Five, Nov 20, 2016


More news came out on the advances in Mosul from November 19. Moalimin, Bakr and Aden were declared freed for the second and third times respectively, while Muharabeen and Ulama were attacked.

On November 20 Akhaa, for the second time, and Khazir were liberated, while Bakr, Zahabiya, Qadisiyah, Tahrir and Wala were being swept for IEDs. There was still fighting going on in Intisar, which was first freed on November 1, and Aden that was called liberated the day before, and Qahira and Zuhur were also attacked. Almost all of the areas that the Iraqi forces (ISF) have entered remain contested. The Islamic State has been able to re-infiltrate areas again and again usually through the extensive tunnel system it built underneath the city.

In the southwest the Hashd was consolidating its position at the Tal Afar airport. A parliamentarian claimed that there was a deal between Iraq and Turkey, negotiated by the United States, to keep the Hashd out of Tal Afar itself. A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Erdogan called on Baghdad to abide by this agreement. The Hashd have talked about taking Tal Afar since it joined the operation, so it is unclear as of now whether such an Iraq-Turkey understanding exists or not.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim and Rohan, Brian, "Iraqi troops face stiff resistance from IS in eastern Mosul," Associated Press, 11/19/16

Adel, Loaa, "Anti-Terrorism forces liberate Hayy Adan and Akhaa near Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/20/16

Bas News, "Iraqi Forces Retake Two More Neighborhoods East of Mosul," 11/17/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 1, 2016," 11/1/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, “MP unveils Baghdad-Ankara agreement limiting al-Hashed al-Shaabi combat role,” Iraqi News, 11/20/16

NINA, "A military source: Completing the liberation of Al-Baker and Aden neighborhoods, and storming the warriors area within the left-coast of the city of Mosul," 11/19/16

Rudaw, "Iraqi military reports progress on five fronts," 11/20/16
- "ISIS leader among militants killed in Mosul district," 11/20/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces free more districts in eastern Mosul," 11/4/16
- "Spotlight: IS commanders escape from Mosul amid Iraqi troop's offensive," 10/20/16

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Musings On Iraq In The News


I was mentioned in "Iraq: Ba'athists" a report by the British Home Office. I was cited in “Shiite Militias Are Crashing the Mosul Offensive” by Michael Knights in Foreign Policy.

Mosul Campaign Day Thirty-Four, Nov 19, 2016


The Golden Division made more progress in eastern Mosul, while the Islamic State was counter attacking. The Moalimin neighborhood was freed, while Muharabeen and Ulama were attacked. There was still fighting going on in Tahrir and Qadisiya, which were cleared before. General Abdul Wahab al-Saddi of the division said that 10 of the 50 neighborhoods in the eastern half of Mosul were under control. With IS re-infiltration however, many of those like Qadisiyah, appear to still be contested. Reuters also reported that around 200 civilians and members of the security forces had been sent to the hospital over the last week, another sign of the heavy toll the campaign is taking on those involved.

In the south the army was still clearing villages. Two more were freed, and the 9th Division declared all of Nimrod district liberated.

The Hashd were still working on the Tal Afar airport area in the southwest before making an assault on the town of the same name. The Hashd said that all of the airport was secured and three villages in the area were freed.

The Islamic State carried out a surprise attack on Imam Gharbi, which is south of Mosul. It held the town for several hours before air strikes and the Iraqi forces drove them out.

Buzz Feed spent some time with a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) team in Mosul. The teams work with the U.S. led Coalition to call in air strikes. Usually an American accompanies them, but the one that the journalists visited was operating on its own, although a French intelligence officer was present. That day, they were working with 2 Apaches helicopters, a drone, and fighter jets. Their main job was trying to destroy car bombs before they hit the Iraqi forces (ISF). Two major problems were the speed with which some of the vehicle borne improvised explosive devices came in they could not be struck, and the other was the amount of civilians, which sometimes meant air strikes had to be called off to stop any collateral damage. 

Finally, the Associated Press witnessed the re-opening of a church in Bashiqa. The cross on top of the building, which the Islamic State had taken down was replaced, the church bells rung, and a service held. Unfortunately most of the town was completely destroyed in the fighting making this event just one of many that will be needed to restore life.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim and Rohan, Brian, "Iraqi troops face stiff resistance from IS in eastern Mosul," Associated Press, 11/19/16

Bas News, "20 Civilians Killed by IS Mortar Shells in Eastern Mosul," 11/19/16

Giglio, Mike, “This Is How Ground Troops In Mosul Are Calling US Airstrikes On ISIS,” Buzz Feed, 11/19/16

Hashd, Tawfeeq, Mohammed and Formanek, Ingrid, "Iraqi forces recapture key air base near Mosul," CNN, 11/16/16

Kalin, Stephen, "Civilian casualties from Mosul are overwhelming capacity, U.N. warns," Reuters, 11/19/16

Al Maalomah, "Security forces destroyed two truck bombs norhteast Mosul," 11/19/16

Al Mada, "Anti-terrorism forces free Moalimin neighborhood east Mosul," 11/19/16

Rudaw, "LIVE UPDATES: Battle for Mosul, Day 34," 11/19/16

Shafaq News, "Iraqi forces say they liberated Nimrod district," 11/19/16
- "Popular crowd repels attack and frees three villages surrounding Tal Afar Airport," 11/19/16

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Attempt To Shut Out Iraq’s Small Parties Before 2017 Elections


Iraq’s next elections in April 2017 are for provincial councils, although they could be delayed until the next year because of the war. So far the main talk about the vote is to change the election law to favor the large parties to ensure their domination of the local governments.

There are two efforts underway to change the voting process to favor the big lists. One is to reduce the number of seats on each provincial council. Parties want to recalculate how many seats would be up for election based upon the population. One parliamentarian said that each province would start with 11 seats and then gain 1 more for every 250,000 residents. The second project is to change how votes are counted. In the previous two elections Iraq used the Sainte-Lague system that helped small parties gain office. Politicians are now calling for a new process to be used. In both cases, the large lists are trying to make it more difficult for the small ones to gain council seats.

The major parties have complained that after the 2009 provincial vote the ruling alliances proved too difficult to manage with so many parties involved. They now want to try to eliminate that possibility by changing the system so that large parties like State of Law, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Mutahidun, etc. would get most of the seats. There are positives and negatives to limiting the number of victors. The fewer actors involved would theoretically make deal making and compromise easier. On the other hand, the ruling parties are largely seen as corrupt and political failures. Bringing in new parties could start the process of either making the older lists change or be superseded. What happened after the last local elections was that the smaller lists offered opportunities for new alliances. Iraq is still a young democracy so it is still in the process of developing its party politics so attempts at change and consolidation can be expected in the future.

SOURCES

Buratha News, “The political blocs are going to reduce the number of provincial seats in the upcoming elections,” 8/3/16

Habib, Mustafa, “The Waiting Game: Iraq’s Many Problems Threaten Postponement Of 2017 Elections,” Niqash, 9/22/16

Al Mada, “Blocs considering amending the election law to exclude potential competitors and postponement,” 10/9/16
- “Political parties are preparing for provincial elections to amend the election law and restructure the Election Commission,” 7/25/16
- “A third amendment to the provincial council law cutting in half their members and eliminate the districts,” 9/25/16



Mosul Campaign day 224 May 28 2017

Federal Police officer firing an RPG in west Mosul (Reuters) The second day of the new push on west Mosul brought mixed successes. ...