Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 109, Feb 3, 2017


The Hashd have started a new offensive to the west of Mosul. They took ten villages during the day. They were also expanding the operation to the southwest. The Hashd’s goal has been to cut off the Islamic State’s supply lines to other parts of Iraq and Syria. The problem has been the vast area of western Ninewa it is operating in has made it difficult to secure.

Inside Mosul the Islamic State launched another assault across the Tigris River from west to east. The Iraqi Forces (ISF) with the assistance of Coalition aircraft turned back the insurgents. These attacks have become almost daily occurrences. The Islamic State’s modus operandi has always been to attack even when it’s back is up against the wall, which is the situation it finds itself in now.

The ISF could be adding a new twist to its planned attack upon west Mosul. The announced strategy is a river assault across the Tigris into west Mosul. Federal Police reinforcements arrived in Abu Saif. These forces could be used to attack the city from the south. The problem is the original multi-front assault upon Mosul collapsed due to poor coordination. It’s unlikely that Iraqi planning and command has improved since then. The police therefore may simply be a holding force for east Mosul while other units move into the west.

Securing east Mosul is an on going concern. Five intelligence units were sent into the city. They will not only help screen people, but conduct raids and searches as well. There is great concern about IS sleeper cells and insurgents who shed their beards and uniforms and melted into the population. New police are also required for the city once IS is expelled. The U.S. led coalition is currently training these units. The Spanish army is doing that at a camp in Basmaya. They are providing a five-week course, which the commander General Angel Castilla admitted was too short, but was the time they were given because officers are desperately needed in Mosul.

Reuters had a piece on the growing discontent within Mosul. Residents wanted to know when the city would be rebuilt, but didn’t seem to have much confidence in that happening any time soon. One resident accused politicians of selling out the city and dividing the country. The problems facing civilians are growing.

While much has been written on life returning to the city the deprivations people are suffering is now getting covered. The Islamic State cut off power to east Mosul. The power grid for the city resides on the west side, which is under insurgent control. That means people have to turn to private generators. Three power stations were also out of service, and would need $30 million to rebuild. IRIN talked about the lack of medical facilities. The city’s hospitals have been destroyed or are out of service. The government and aid agencies have set up temporary facilities, but they are few and far between. IRIN talked with a family who lost three members to an air strike. A daughter survived and her family had to walk almost six hours to a temporary medical center opened in the center of Mosul to find care for her. It receives almost 1,500 people per day. The World Health Organization is planning on opening a 50-bed hospital for emergency care, but that is completely inadequate compared to the needs. The only other alternative was to go to the hospitals in Irbil. The problem with that is the Peshmerga are getting tougher with allowing people entry to the city. The hospitals are also completely over whelmed anyway. One family had to sleep over night to get in. Because the Kurdish security take people’s IDs at the entry points to make sure they leave, they couldn’t stay in any hotels and had to find shelter on the street. A third issue is there is no running water in east Mosul. Again, the water system is largely under IS control. Neither the government nor aid agencies have the means right now to deal with these growing dilemmas. In Anbar for example, liberated cities only have basic services, but no economies and no reconstruction forcing some people to leave. The same will likely happen in Mosul unless oil prices start climbing higher to fill Baghdad’s coffers.

The number of displaced continued to rise. From January 27 to February 1 that figure went from 151,344 to 164,178. The next day it dropped by 3,000. That was still the highest total since the Battle for Mosul began in October. Combat operations ended a week and a half ago however, so why are people still fleeing? That’s because people are being driven from their homes by the constant IS shelling. At the same time there is a flow of people back. With the liberation of west Mosul coming up the total will go up even more.

Finally, the hard work of the Oil Ministry and international firms put out another well fire in Qayara. IS was forced out of the area in August and set the field afire. That leaves six wells still to be doused.

SOURCES

Abdul-Hassan, Ali, “US-led coalition trains Mosul police, plans for IS-free Iraq,” Associated Press, 2/3/17

AIN, "Popular crowd frees 10 villages in the southwestern desert of Nineveh," 2/3/17
- “Video..large military reinforcements up to the south of Mosul,” 2/3/17

Georgy, Michael, “Freed from jihadists, Mosul residents focus fury on Iraqi politicians,” Reuters, 2/3/17

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet #14 – Mosul Operations From 17 October To 2 February,” 2/2/17

Al Masalah, “Oil Ministry announces extinguishing well 60 in Qayyarah field,” 2/3/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "PMUs recapture western Mosul villages, army holds off sneaking IS members," Iraqi News, 2/3/17

Rudaw, “East Mosul in the dark after ISIS cut national electricity grid,” 2/2/17

Shafaaq News, “The arrive of five regiments of the joint forces to Mosul,” 2/3/17

Westcott, Tom, “Inside east Mosul’s growing healthcare emergency,” IRIN News, 2/2/17


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