The Iraqi forces (ISF) have constantly talked about a frontal assault on west Mosul across the Tigris River, but now it might be done on two fronts. The Joint Operations Command announced that all preparations for west Mosul were completed. It said engineers would construct bridges to bring vehicles into west Mosul. Now new reports are emerging of another attack, which would not require coming under direct fire while crossing the Tigris. A general from the Golden Division said that his men would be moving into east Mosul from the south. Federal Police reinforcements also just arrived in that area and could take part as well. The ISF ran into great difficulty in its original multi-pronged campaign against Mosul. It went so bad that it was consolidated from five down to just one front. Moving from the south would be a lot easier. The amphibious assault could happen simultaneously to stretch the Islamic State’s defenses.
Tal Afar has still not been taken in the west, but a new twist has been added to that future campaign as well. Badr head Hadi Amiri recently had a meeting with the Kurds and agreed to incorporate the Peshmerga when the town is taken. That was a surprising development as many of the Shiite Hashd have been openly hostile to the Kurds in Ninewa, and recently threatened them as well. Amiri however has a long history with the Kurdish leadership from when he was a member of the Supreme Council. It’s likely the Peshmerga will move out of their bases in Sinjar and close off the northern regions while the Hashd take Tal Afar itself.
There was mixed news out of Mosul. Vice President Osama Nujafi made a tour of the city, his historic base. Interestingly a paper had him pictured walking with his brother Atheel Nujafi. Iraqi media outlets usually use stock photos however so there was no indication that was a new photo, because the Iraqi forces said they would arrest Atheel if he entered the city again. On the negative side IS mortar fire on several liberated neighborhoods killed 26 people. IS also attacked the Iraqi forces in a town just outside of Mosul in the northeast. There is a curfew in the city to try to keep people off the streets to try to avoid the shelling, and over one thousand people have been forced out of their homes due to the mortars and rockets.
Securing the city is another on going matter. The Golden Division arrested 39 IS members in a series of raids and searches in five neighborhoods in east Mosul. More Federal Police are entering the city as well to help with security. There is great concern about IS sleeper cells. Ninewa officials are also trying to decide what to do with families with IS members. There could be around 1,000 families that fall under that category with some in displaced camps and others in the city. There has been talk about putting them in a special camp, which has happened in other provinces, but nothing has happened yet.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is trying to help Ninewa’s farmers. It was distributing 750 tons of fertilizer to try to encourage farmers to grow winter crops. Much of the agriculture in the province declined under the Islamic State because they were denied important inputs like fertilizer and pesticides. There are food shortages going on in the province including west Mosul, so the U.N. is hoping that some of this production can be used for those needs.
Bas News, “39 IS Militants Arrested in Mosul,” 2/4/17
Hawramy, Fazel, “Will Mosul see peace post-Islamic State?” Al Monitor, 2/3/17
Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: Feb. 4, 2017,” 2/4/17
Al Maalomah, “Joint Operations declares the end of military plans to liberate the right bank of Mosul,” 2/4/17
Al Mada, “Mayor of Mosul: Unresolved status of 10 thousand Daash families in Nineveh,” 2/5/17
Al Masalah, “Appointment of a new commander to 16th Division, northern Mosul axis,” 2/4/17
PBS Newshour, “Areas of Mosul are still under siege, but signs of life return,” 2/3/17
Robson, Seth, “Car bombs, civilians will complicate fight to free western Mosul,” Stars and Stripes, 2/4/17
Rudaw, “Mosul farmers given fertilizer to make up for two years of no production,” 2/4/17
Shafaaq News, “Democratic Party announced participation of the Peshmerga in the battle of Tal Afar in coordination with the popular crowd,” 2/4/17
- “Najafi in East Mosul,” 2/4/17