Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 122, Feb 15, 2017


The Islamic State is intensifying its attacks upon liberated west Mosul. On February 15 a 14-year-old suicide bomber was arrested in the Nur neighborhood, while another set off his device in a market in Zahra leaving 10 dead and wounding 3. A drone strike hit the Nabi Younis area killing 3 and wounding 4. The assaults have grown so bad that the United Nations announced that it ceased work in the city until it was more secure. A Police colonel told Reuters that all the main Iraqi (ISF) units were on the bank of the Tigris preparing for the assault on the western half of the city leaving the rest under the control of a hodgepodge of units from some army forces, to police to new local Hashd. The colonel did not think that was enough to secure the eastern side. The halting of U.N. work is a major setback for the city as there is already a lack of services, and the government and aid agencies do not have a large presence in Mosul. The problem of holding east Mosul is also likely delaying the assault on the west, as Baghdad has to figure out how it will deal with the liberated areas before it can take on more.


The intensity of IS attacks was shown in the weekly figures compiled by Musings On Iraq using over 40 sources, mostly Iraqi newspapers. During the second week of February 211 people were killed in east Mosul by drones, mortars, rockets, suicide bombers, and car bombs. The insurgents executed another 99 civilians. Those were the highest casualty figures since the third week of January when there was still major combat going on to take the city.

IS was active in other areas as well. They drowned 13 people in Mosul on charges of helping the Iraqi forces. 2 suicide bombers also hit a checkpoint in Tal Abta west of Mosul killing 5 Hashd and wounding more.

Getting much less coverage is the casualties caused by ISF shelling of west Mosul. 7 civilians were killed and 6 wounded when a market was hit by Iraqi artillery. Every day the Iraqis are firing on the western side, but because it is under IS control casualties are rarely reported.

The Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development released a report on the Intisar neighborhood in southeast Mosul. The group found that there was no drinking water available in the area forcing people to dig holes in pipes. There were markets open selling food, bottled water, and other goods, but the problem was residents didn’t have much cash and there were no jobs. There were no aid groups or government agencies operating in Intisar to help civilians either. This is likely the situation in many parts of east Mosul. Life has returned, and hundreds of people are heading back, but there is still violence, and there is no real rebuilding going on beyond what regular citizens can do on their own.

The United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande visited two displaced camps taking in people from Mosul and expressed her concerns about the coming assault upon west Mosul. She was worried that taking the other half of the city would create more humanitarian issues than the west did. The U.N. is afraid that more people will be displaced, and that might overwhelm the camps and hospitals set up to assist them. The hospitals in Irbil that were set up to take in wounded ISF and civilians from east Mosul for example, were overflowing with patients and running low on supplies. There has been no news as to whether they were able to re-fill their stocks of medicines, etc. to take on another huge wave of people.

Agence France Presse called people in IS occupied west Mosul who are having a far worse time than the east. A mother said that her family was trying to stock up on supplies in anticipation of the coming battle, but they didn’t have much to save. She said that her family was reduced to eating only once a day because they had such little food. Most stores in the west are empty, and those that do have goods are selling them for exorbitant prices. Water, heating and cooking fuel, and electricity are in very short supply as well. One man said he was burning old clothes because he had no gas for his furnace or stove. Insurgents are searching homes looking for people with cell phones that they suspect are being used to pass on information to the government. Those caught with them are being executed. Many homes along the Tigris have been taken over by the Islamists to be turned into fighting positions. IS is also digging more tunnels and carving out holes in walls between buildings to facilitate the movement of their men so they wouldn’t be exposed to overhead observation or air strikes. The U.N. and others have warned that west Mosul is suffering a humanitarian crisis and these interviews were more evidence of that.

SOURCES

Adel, Loaa, "2 IS suicide bombers kill, wound members of al-Hashd al-Shaabi near Mosul," Iraqi News, 2/15/17

Agence France Presse, “West Mosul easting once a day and bracing for worse,” 2/15/17

Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, “Mosul Neighborhood Snapshot: Al Intisar – February 9, 2017,” 2/9/17

Bas News, "MOSUL: 14-year-old Suicide Bomber Captured in Time," 2/15/17

Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul: Jan. 15, 2017,” 2/15/17

Janssen, Bram, “UN Temporarily Pausing Aid to Eastern Mosul Due to Security,” Associated Press, 2/15/17

Kalin, Stephen, “Mosul bombings temper residents’ relief at Islamic State pushback,” Reuters, 2/15/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Three civilians killed as IS drones bomb eastern Mosul market," Iraqi News, 2/15/17
- "UPDATED: Islamic State execute 21 civilians in Mosul, Kirkuk over for helping police," Iraqi News, 2/15/17

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Aid agencies braced for new waves of displacement in Mosul conflict,” 2/15/17


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