The World Health Organization provided new numbers of casualties from the Mosul campaign. From January 8-31 there were 108 trauma cases at three hospitals in Irbil and Bartella. There were another 390 trauma patients at those facilities. During this time period the Iraqi Forces (ISF) were finishing the liberation of east Mosul with the last neighborhood taken on January 23. The figures amplify the fact that civilians have suffered the most from the fighting.
With no combat operations in Mosul the ISF are now focusing on hunting down sleeper cells and Islamic State fighters who slipped into the general population. A parliamentarian from Iyad Allawi’s Nationalist list complained that this was leading to arbitrary arrests. The seriousness of these sweeps was also highlighted on February 6 when gun battles broke out in Nur and Zuhur killing six IS members. Stay behind insurgents are definitely a concern. The fact that most of east Mosul’s population stayed inside the city meant they were not screened, and IS fighters could hide amongst them. The Iraqi forces are now trying to go through them all, but it is a time consuming process.
Besides sleeper cells the militants continued to infiltrate into east Mosul. Some fighters got into the Sumer neighborhood at the southern tip of the city and seized an area for three hours before being expelled. 10 IS fighters were killed in the process. Every few days the Islamic State has launched one of these attacks. Usually they have come across the Tigris River, but they have also hit the very north and now the south.
Clearing Mosul and Ninewa of the insurgents is only part of the story of securing northern Iraq. The militants have also left behind thousands of mines and IEDs. The United Nations estimated it would take $50 million to clear Mosul alone. That matched the amount the U.N. predicted for going through the entire country. One of those figures therefore has to be revised because there is no way all of Iraq should cost the same as Mosul.
There are continued efforts to re-open Mosul University. A group toured the facilities and found 70% of the buildings were still intact. Some people are trying to clean up the campus. A member of the education committee in parliament said that the university could resume classes by the second half of 2017. As soon as east Mosul was freed the school’s university and students have been talking about getting the university back up and running. Rebuilding is only part of the issue. Getting supplies and money will be just as important and difficult as the Iraqi government has a huge budget deficit due to low oil prices.
The last thing was a new controversy over the Ninewa Guards of Atheel Nujafi. After Nujafi was seen touring freed east Mosul some politicians from the province got mad and an arrest warrant was issued for him and his Hashd were told to leave the city. His brother Vice President Osama Nujafi then reportedly made a deal with ex-Defense Minister Khalid Obeidi to take over the Guard. Now officials are claiming that did not happen. They were also attacking the Nujafis’ standing in the governorate claiming that it was low. The brothers have plenty of rivals within Ninewa, which was what started these problems.
Iraq News Network, “Allawi’s coalition: arbitrary arrests in liberated areas of Mosul by popular crowd,” 2/7/17
Al Mada, “Mutahidun denies inauguration of Obeidi to lead Nineveh Guards: We renewed pledge of allegiance to Nujafi,” 2/7/17
Al Masalah, “Resume classes at University of Mosul in the second half of the year,” 2/7/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Two army soldiers, 10 militants killed as IS attack eastern Mosul district,” Iraqi News, 2/7/17
- “U.N. puts Mosul landmines removal cost at US$50 mn,” Iraqi News, 2/7/17
New Sabah, “Joint Operations forces defined the tasks for the liberation of the right bank of Mosul and Tal Afar,” 2/7/17
NINA, “6 Terrorists Killed, 8 Arrested In Clashes Between Security Forces And Daesh, East of Mosul,” 2/6/17
Thomas, Claire, “Fighting the flames of ISIL in Iraq,” Al Jazeera, 2/7/17
World Health Organization, “WHO Special Situation Report – Mosul Crisis, Iraq – Issue NO 5: 29 January to 04 February 2017,” 2/4/17