For weeks now Iraqi officials have been pushing the line that the Islamic State is a defeated force. Prime Minister Haider Abadi was the latest to add to the fray when he told a meeting of Iraq’s governors that the majority of IS’s foreign fighters had left Mosul. This follows the government’s release of captured IS documents that showed foreign members trying to get out of fighting in Ninewa. The papers were first reported in the Iraqi press, and then got wider coverage when they were featured in the Washington Post. The reports just came from one battalion however.
In Mosul itself the insurgents are releasing a wave of terror. A suicide bomber detonated his device in a restaurant in the Zuhur neighborhood killing four and wounding 15. A suicide car bomb hit a checkpoint in Nur leaving five dead and 9 injured. A third suicide bomber was killed in the north as well. The day before two car bombs were discovered before they went off, and four suicide bombers were killed. This is the second time a vehicle bomb has gone off since east Mosul was liberated, and the first suicide bombers. On top of that three more people were wounded by mortar fire. The Islamic State is surrounded in west Mosul, but it is making its best effort to make the east feel like a city besieged as well with these daily attacks.
To make the situation worse the spokesman for Asaib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH) accused the Peshmerga and ex-Governor Atheel Nujafi’s Ninewa Guards for assisting with the two suicide bombings. He went on to say that Kurdish President Barzani is aligned with the Nujafis and they wish to divide the province. The Iranian backed Hashd groups such as AAH have been in a running war of words with the Kurds, and especially Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for years now over their independence drive and ties with Turkey, and have taken every opportunity to verbally attack them.
At the start of February the Hashd in western Ninewa announced the start of their sixth phase of operations. They’d spent weeks promoting the offensive. After freeing eleven villages however, the push suddenly stopped in just four days. The Hashd were able to cut off some IS supply lines to Syria, which has been the main task of the units.
The United Nations’ latest figures showed the continued trend of people returning to their homes in Mosul and Ninewa in general. From February 6-7 794 people arrived in two displacement camps coming from north and central east Mosul, with a few from the IS held west. At the same time 1,002 went back. Ninewa officials are encouraging people to leave the camps. With no major combat operations going on people are feeling that it is the right time to try to rebuild. However, the constant IS shelling and food and service shortages in east Mosul are still providing a push for a large number of people to get out of the city.
The U.N. also noted more schools are now operating in east Mosul. In the middle of January it was announced that 70 schools had re-opened. That was now up to 90. All of them have books and supplies provided by the Education Ministry and the Ninewa education directorate.
Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, "Iraqi officials: Suicide bombings in eastern Mosul kill 5," Associated Press, 2/10/17
AIN, "Popular crowd frees 10 villages in the southwestern desert of Nineveh," 2/3/17
Callimachi, Rukmini, “Today in Mosul: Retaken Parts of ISIS Stronghold Return to Life,” New York Times, 2/9/17
Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Feb. 4, 2017," 2/4/17
- “Inside Mosul: Jan. 23, 2017,” 1/23/17
Al Maalomah, “Talabaw: eastern Mosul bombings carried out with the help of the Nineveh Guards and the Peshmerga,” 2/10/17
Middle East Monitor, “Iraq PM: Foreign Daesh fighters have fled Mosul,” 2/10/17
Morris, Loveday and Salim, Mustafa, “File on Islamic State’s ‘problem’ foreign fighters shows some are refusing to fight,” Washington Post, 2/7/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, "Mobilization units set on operations to clear western Mosul road from IS," Iraqi News, 2/1/17
Reuters, "Suicide bombings kill 10, wound 33 in Mosul, Baghdad," 2/10/17
Rudaw, "Protesters rally in Baghdad calling for electoral reform," 2/10/17
Shafaaq News, "Urgent..Wounded in the fall of mortar shells in liberated areas of Mosul," 2/10/17
Sotaliraq, "Killing an officer and wounding nine civilians in a third bombing hitting the left bank of Mosul," 2/10/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: Flash Update – 10 February 2017,” 2/10/17