There has been very slow progress since the last phase of the Mosul Battle began four days ago. Zinjali has been the only neighborhood where constant advances have been reported. A military school run by the Islamic State was captured. Army officers told Agence France Presse that things were moving very slowly in Shifa where there are several hospitals the Iraqi forces (ISF) were not trying to destroy. As usual, the insurgents are relying upon small units to carry out hit and run tactics. They fire upon the ISF and then move onto another position. During the day they launched two counterattacks, one in Bab al-Tob in the Old City, and another in Hawi Kanisa, which is a liberated area of west Mosul. Iraqi officials and members of the ISF were talking about expelling IS from the city in just a few days. That is probably overly optimistic as most Iraqi announcements are.
Now that the Hashd have reached the Syrian border in western Ninewa they are building defenses. They set about digging a trench starting with the village of Um Greis that will run parallel to the border. They are also still fighting in Baaj and moving on the towns north of there.
In the Sinjar district the Hashd discovered more mass graves. 10 were said to have been found spread across three towns. Some of these were known before using satellite imagery, but they were out of reach due to the IS presence. The insurgents swept into the district in August 2014, and proceeded to round up Yazidi men and execute them in the thousands. These graves are the legacy of those massacres.
The Peshmerga were still complaining about the Hashd presence in Sinjar. The Peshmerga General Command claimed the Hashd being in the district broke an agreement between Irbil and Baghdad brokered before the Mosul campaign started. According to the Kurds the central government agreed to only allow the Peshmerga into Kurdish areas during the operation. Prime Minister Haider Abadi sent his National Security Adviser Falah Fayad to try to work out the problem, but that has not stopped the almost daily charges leveled at the Hashd.
The Wall Street Journal wrote that Paris sent its Special Forces to Mosul to eliminate its nationals that joined the Islamic State. The French government does not want IS members to return to the country to cause chaos, and has already been the victim of several terrorist attacks that IS took credit for. So far 30 “high level targets” have been killed. In total, approximately 1,700 French are believed to have joined the militants. It’s likely the French are doing the same thing in Syria to try to get rid of as many of these people as possible on the battlefield.
The Washington Post wrote about the bulldozer drivers the ISF are employing in Mosul. They play a crucial role in protecting the flanks of ISF units inside the city by building berms, guarding against car bombs, as well as removing barricades the insurgents have put up to block roadways. The bulldozers themselves come from the United States that has provided 132 to the Iraqis since March 2015. The vehicles and their drivers are favorite targets of IS because they know how important they are. Losses have been high amongst them as a result. In April for example, the Federal Police had to ask for volunteers because so many operators had been killed. One of the militants’ favorite counter attacks is to launch car bombs from short distances at ISF units. These bulldozers have stopped scores of them from hitting their targets.
The government is slowly restoring services to the liberated areas of Mosul. One of the most crucial is electricity. Baghdad recently decided to divert approximately a third of Kirkuk province’s power supply to Mosul. Kirkuk is obviously not happy about that as it will lead to shortages for its people. There is little the governorate can do about this besides complain however as the Electricity Ministry controls the power grid.
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