Friday, May 26, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 221 May 25 2017


Battle damage in west Mosul’s Najar neighborhood (Baghdad Post)
More pictures taken from Niqash reporter returning to his home in Mosul (Niqash)

There were clashes in west Mosul, but the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were mostly preparing the for the next and final push to liberate the entire city. The army and Federal Police were fighting with the Islamic State in the Old City. The Federal Police were removing barricades in that district to allow civilians to escape, and for supplies to brought in for the ISF. Different units were moving into position for the next assault on the city. The Islamic State holds around 4-7 neighborhoods along the Tigris River. The Federal Police are in the south of that area, the Rapid Reaction Division in the east, and the Golden Division to the west and north. Yesterday reinforcements were arriving as well. The final phase of the battle will likely start soon after the ISF resupplies and refits. The conclusion should take a few weeks. Taking on the Old City will be the most difficult due to its dense layout and IS’s defenses.

The Hashd started the second phase of their Ninewa operation. They took 9 villages around Qayrawan, including another Yazidi one in Sinjar. The goal is to take Baaj, and then move onto the Syrian border. Seizing Baaj and heading further west may not end the criticism the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) had levelled at the Hashd for entering Sinjar, which is under its hegemony.

ABC News had an in depth follow up story to the Der Spiegel piece that accused the Rapid Reaction Division (RRD) of abuse and extra judicial killings of IS suspects during the Mosul campaign. The author of the Der Spiegel story Ali Arkady turned over his photos and videos to ABC. ABC then interviewed the captain who headed the RRD unit that Arkady followed. The officer told ABC that his unit didn’t take prisoners and if what Arkady documented were abuses he was proud of them. Arkady’s videos included torturing of a man and a shooting of a handcuffed suspect. Sarah Leigh Whitson of Human Rights Watch and a former U.S. soldier said the videos didn’t seem to show any cause for the torture. The RRD released its own video to counter the Der Spiegel article, but no details were given as to what that included. The Interior Ministry has created a committee to investigate the report as well. Abuse and torture is institutionalized within the ISF so it should be no surprise that someone discovered it occurring during the current campaign. That’s also the reason why any investigation is unlikely to lead to anything substantive. No previous committees into similar cases has ever led to anything.

The other big news of the day was that the Pentagon released the results of its investigation into the Jadida air strike incident. The Defense Department said that the ISF called in an air strike when they came under fire from two IS snipers in a building. The bomb wasn’t big enough to collapse the structure, but set off explosives that were stored inside of it. 101 bodies were eventually found in the house with another 4 in an adjacent one. Another 36 might have died as well, but the Americans couldn’t confirm that. The ISF didn't know there were any civilians inside the building when it called in the air support. Since west Mosul was attacked the Coalition has increased its air campaign in the city. That along with the Iraqi government telling residents to stay inside the city, the insurgents use of human shields as well as fire and maneuver tactics where they take a few shots from one building and then move to another all contributed to the civilian casualties. The knowledge that more air strikes will inevitably lead to more dead and wounded has not stopped their use.

A reporter from Niqash that hailed from Mosul returned to the city to find his house and family. The journalist was in the city when it fell to the Islamic State and eventually escaped. When he returned, he found his neighborhood totally destroyed. He noted that the friends and relatives that he found had the mark of the war on their faces. He finished by saying that the ghost of the Islamic State would hang over the city for a long time.

A radio station based in Irbil is running a talent contest for the young people of Mosul. Teens and young adults from the ages of 15-25 could apply, and 93 were picked for things like rap, poetry, and story writing. This was yet another sign that life was returning to city. It also related to the Niqash piece as many of the submissions were about the two years under the Islamic State.

The number of displaced from the Mosul operation was still going up. The International Organization for Migration counted 375,282 displaced (IDPs) on May 21. That dipped to 374,064 on May 23 before rising to a new high of 377,406 on May 25. Those figures showed that there is always a flow of people in and out of the city. The Iraqi Red Crescent and the Displacement Ministry were working inside and out of Mosul to provide aid to these thousands of people. Despite their work, many IDPs have complained that they are either not getting enough help or it is not being equitably distributed. The Displacement Ministry has been overwhelmed by the number of people, and mishandled the situation as well.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraqi forces release video countering claims of abuse,” Associated Press, 5/25/17

Agence France Presse, “Iraq radio shows finds talent amid rubble of Mosul,” 5/25/17

Baghdad Post, “Aid handed out in freed parts of Mosul,” 5/25/17

BBC, “US air strike on IS killed 105 civilians in Iraq’s Mosul,” 5/25/17

Chappell, Bill, “Report On U.S. Airstrikes That Killed Civilians In Mosul To Be Released Thursday,” NPR, 5/25/17

Hennigan, W.J. and Hennessy-Fiske, Molly, “Pentagon investigation into deadly airstrike in Mosul says U.S. bomb ignited explosion,” Los Angeles Times, 5/25/17

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet #30 – Mosul Operations From 17 October to 25 May,” 5/25/17

Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: May 24, 2017,” 5/25/17
- “Inside Mosul: May 25, 2017,” 5/25/17

Iraqi Red Crescent Society, “Iraqi Red Crescent provides medical, relief and food assistance to more than 485,000 displaced in the camps and the liberated areas after more than 90 days of the right side operations of Mosul city,” 5/24/17

McKernan, Bethan, “Iraq investigating claims of civilian abuse by soldiers in Mosul,” Independent, 5/25/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, “Mosul’s Old City under full security forces’ siege, IS denies civilians food,” Iraqi News, 5/25/17
- “Police bulldozers open exits for civilians from Mosul’s Old City,” Iraqi News, 5/25/17

Mostafa, Nehal, “Two villages freed, west of Mosul, as PMUs resume advance toward Baaj,” Iraqi News, 5/25/17

Niqash, “Bittersweet Homecoming: A Journalist Returns To His City, Mosul,” 5/25/17

Ross, Brian, Schwartz, Rhonda, Meek, James Gordon and Kreider, Randy, “Iraqi troops torture and execute civilians in secret videos,” ABC News, 5/25/17

Rudaw, “Shiite forces capture symbolic Yezidi town of Kocho from ISIS in Shingal,” 5/25/17

Shafaaq News, “Expert details the final battle on the five doors in Mosul and betting on the hatred of the people,” 5/25/17

Xinhua, “Iraqi paramilitary forces free 9 villages in anti-IS operation in west of Mosul,” 5/25/17
- “Iraqi paramilitary forces push further in anti-IS operation in west of Mosul,” 5/25/17


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