Aftermath of a suicide bulldozer bomb in the Old City of Mosul (Daily Mail)
The Iraqi forces (ISF) renewed their offensive in the Old City in Mosul on March 17. The Federal Police and Rapid Reaction Division were still aiming for the Ground Mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in 2014. The police were able to take several main streets and markets during the day. That symbolizes who much the campaign has slowed down. The dense layout of the Old City along with tough defenses by the insurgents has slowed things down considerably, mixed in with poor weather that has limited air support.
Reuters talked with people who fled west Mosul. They explained how IS fighters were constantly on the move, withdrawing and re-infiltrating along the frontlines. They also discussed the heavy civilian casualties that have come from not only IS but the Iraqi and Coalition forces. There were still massive shortages as well of food and supplies. These conditions are the major reason why so many have fled the city.
The United Nations warned that the displacement (IDPs) crisis is reaching the breaking point. The U.N.’s humanitarian representative to Iraq Lise Grande said that if the number of people coming out of west Mosul continued aid agencies would be overwhelmed. The Iraqi ground forces commander General Riyad Jalal Tawfiq issued a statement that the ISF are preparing a process to allow people from Mosul to go to Baghdad. The official figures for IDPs went from 224,286 on March 12 to 254,880 on March 16, a 30,594 increase. That only counts people who have registered. The Iraqi government claims there are several thousand more.
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Davison, John and Boumzar, Abdelaziz, "Fleeing IS, Mosul's civilians cart out the living and the dead," Reuters, 3/17/17
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