Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 14 Jul 24 2017


No fighting has been reported in Mosul for the last few days but the Islamic State’s cells are still active. A car bomb went off in the western neighborhood of Bab al-Sinjar that left four dead and three wounded. These types of terrorist attacks will be the security challenge in the city for the coming weeks and months as IS attempts to scare the public and show that it is still active.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Musings On Iraq In The News


I was quoted in “Will Iraq become more decentralized after the Islamic State?” in Rudaw, "An Independent Kurdistan Would Begin With a Clash" in War Is Boring both by Paul Iddon, and was mentioned in "The day after ISIS: the Middle East after Islamic State | Tending flowers in the desert" by Craig Whiteside for the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. 

Post Mosul Liberation Day 13 Jul 23 2017


The Iraqi forces (ISF) continued clearing operations in west Mosul. First, several IS members were arrested in Tanak, Tamuz 17, and Islah Zirahi. The ISF have put up posters and started a public campaign to get people to report any IS suspects they see inside the city. Second, the army’s 16th Division, which is in control of sections of east Mosul is supposed to be take charge of the east in 72 hours. Third, the Iraqi authorities claimed in two weeks they will have explosives removed and started work on infrastructure and services so that large numbers of people can start returning to the west. They must mean just from main thoroughfares, because other reports have said it would take months if not years to clean up all the unexploded ordinance. Finally, a soldier was wounded by an IS sniper. Fighting may finally be over inside the city. There are only scattered reports of gunfire, and an occasional suicide bomber. Then again, there is still a ban on reporting in the western half unless on a presser with the ISF, so it’s impossible to be sure. If so, that leaves the Iraqi forces to the long and arduous tasks of hunting down IS members, and getting rid of leftover bombs.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 12 Jul 22 2017


Civil Defense teams are still recovering bodies from the rubble in west Mosul. A family of eight was discovered in a basement after their house collapsed on top of them two weeks before. A girl was found after she got trapped looking for her family. Two other families were uncovered in their destroyed homes. The Mosul Morgue is still receiving 30-40 corpses a day. This will be a long and arduous operation as so much of west Mosul was damaged in the fighting. An unknown amount of people died in the process, and they have yet to be dug out.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 11 Jul 21 2017


News out of Mosul was limited again because of the media blackout enforced by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Yesterday, General Haidar Ali al-Shemari from the Golden Division told the press that around 250 families were still trapped in the Old City, afraid to flee because of Islamic State gunfire. Soon after that story was published the Joint Operations Command (JOC) denied it. The JOC was supposed to be in control of all press statements, but has never been able to enforce that rule. The general’s statement contradicted the government’s narrative that Mosul is freed, and only mopping up operations are going on, which as the reason why the JOC claimed it was fake news.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 10 Jul 20 2017


July 20, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) admitted that fighting continued in the Old City of West Mosul. First, U.S. led Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon told Rudaw that there were no reported clashes going on inside Mosul anymore. However, according General Haidar Ali al-Shemari of the Golden Division there were occasional gunfights occurring in the Old City. Those were happening in Qalahat and Shahwan along the Tigris River. Yesterday, a suicide bomber hit a police unit in the former killing three and wounding two. Two more bombers were killed in Yarmouk, which is in the western side of west Mosul showing that there are cells or infiltration going on across the city. Reportedly roughly 1,000 people are still trapped in the district, and can’t escape due to insurgent gunfire. The ISF has banned media from west Mosul so coverage of the on-going combat is getting more and more sporadic. General Shemari’s comments contradict the regular line heard by the government that only mopping up operations are taking place in the city.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 9 Jul 19 2017


The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have banned almost all reporters from west Mosul, so there was only one story from the city. A crew from France 24 travelled with a Golden Division unit to the Tanak neighborhood on the western edge of Mosul to look for Islamic State elements. An officer went house to house interviewing families for tips on insurgents. Two young boys were taken in as a result. In most of the city these are the type of clearing operations that the ISF is doing. That’s also the reason why the Golden Division allowed this story, because it goes along with the narrative that Mosul is now safe and secure. It’s unknown whether there is still fighting going on in the Old City district because of the media blackout.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 8 Jul 18 2017


No fighting was reported in the Old City district of West Mosul, just mopping up operations. A Golden Division unit chased down some Islamic State fighters along the Tigris River killing ten of them, and arresting five others. A member of the Mosul district council estimated that there were 100-200 IS elements left in the city concentrated in the Shahwan, Qalahat, Maidan and Khazraj neighborhoods of the Old City. There are continued fears of insurgents that escaped the city with the displaced. The Iraqi press has been almost completely silent on the on going combat in the Old City. It only covers the government releases, which just focus upon clearing operations. Admitting that there were still serious clashes going on would undermine the government’s victory narrative, and the declaration that the city was liberated eight days ago.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 7 Jul 17 2017


The Iraqi forces (ISF) in part are still trying to deny that serious fighting is going on in the Old City in West Mosul. The chief of the Rapid Reaction Division for example, General Thamir al-Husseini told the press that his units were just clearing the district, and there was no fighting going on. Ninewa Operations Command head General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah on the other hand, let it be known that the Islamic State carried out surprise attacks in Shahwan and Qalahat. The fighters came out of basements and tunnels they were hiding in. Those are two neighborhoods along the Tigris River where combat continues. In the rest of Mosul, the ISF are just mopping up, arresting IS elements, and occasionally killing some attempting to escape. In Shahwan and Qahalat however serious combat is still going on.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Post Mosul Liberation Day 6 Jul 16 2017


Heavy clashes continued in the Old City of west Mosul, but with little to no coverage within Iraq. The Golden Division’s General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi repeated the government’s story that the Iraqi forces (ISF) were simply hunting down sleeper cells in the district. The Iraq News Center however reported heavy fighting was going on in Qalahat and Shahwan, which are two neighborhoods along the Tigris River. The Islamic State fighters are hiding in basements and tunnels in the Old City. In one of those twenty IS women were captured with different nationalities. Five of them were suicide bombers. The continued combat in the city is barely being mentioned in the Iraqi media. Instead most of Iraq is just hearing of arrests and occasional shootings of insurgents trying to escape. That’s due to two issues. First, the ISF has barred reporters from west Mosul. Second, almost all Iraqi media outlets just repeat government statements and do not do original reporting.

Post Mosul Liberation Day 14 Jul 24 2017

No fighting has been reported in Mosul for the last few days but the Islamic State’s cells are still active. A car bom...