Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 163, March 28, 2017


The Iraqi forces (ISF) are implementing their new plan for Mosul. The Golden Division continued their march along the western flank of the Old City. They attacked the Yarmouk and Maghreb neighborhoods. The unit claimed it freed the former last week. The Federal Police on the other hand are continuing their frontal attack upon the district moving into Midan, Suq al-Shaareen, Qadhib al-Ban, and a railway station. The police were making little headway into the area due to its dense layout and strong defenses by the Islamic State. That led to a revision of the battle plan, which now consists of the police holding down the insurgents, while the Golden Division attacks them from the flank. This highlights the development of the ISF’s ability to strategize and execute their plans. These were things they were having problems with when the Mosul campaign initially started, but they have since adapted.

The Islamic State was active as well. They assaulted the Hashd lines west of the city. Inside Mosul they conducted a counter attack in the Old City, and fired mortars onto at least three neighborhoods leaving 5 dead and 11 wounded.

The United States is opening their investigation into the Jadida incident. A U.S. commander announced that a team arrived in Mosul to look into the matter. An official was quoted in the New York Times that one building in Jadida collapsed days after the March 17 attack, which raised the possibility that IS blew it up. Residents disputed that saying that an airstrike caused the building to come down. One survivor said he and others were hiding in the basement of a house trying to avoid the fighting when it was hit. The Islamic State has been herding people into their fire positions to be used as human shields. Civilians on their own accord have also sheltered in basements when the fighting comes to their neighborhoods. Either of those scenarios or a mixture of both could account for the high casualties reported.

The American military has not admitted to any changes in the rules of engagement for its air strikes, but that there are far more of them happening. The U.S. now has forward observers able to call in air support without getting approval from headquarters.

The United Nations and Amnesty International both voiced concerns about the growing civilian casualties in the battle for west Mosul. The U.N. recorded 307 civilian deaths and 273 wounded from February 17 when the campaign started up to March 22. From March 23-26 95 people were killed in four neighborhoods alone from shelling, IEDs, car bombs and snipers. Amnesty International noted that not only are people suffering from the insurgents, but Iraqi and Coalition artillery and airstrikes are taking their toll as well. Earlier Human Rights Watch also complained about the damage ISF using rockets, artillery and mortars were causing. West Mosul is an extremely difficult battle space. The dense layout makes it extremely difficult to avoid collateral damage especially when non-precision ordnance is used. IS has switched its tactics. Before it would kick people out of buildings it was using, only using civilians to cover their retreats. Now they are forcing people to stay with them, again making it hard to avoid civilian casualties. Finally, Baghdad told people to stay in the city because they could not take care of them. The dilemma this caused in the fight was apparent in east Mosul, and has only gotten worse in the west.

Medecins Sans Frontieres warned that many of the displaced coming out of west Mosul are injured and overwhelming medical facilities. The group noted that there are not enough ambulances to carry people out of the city. Battlefield related injuries are also not the only things the group is dealing with. Children have been treated for malnutrition as well, a sign of the severe shortages the city is facing.

The United Nations reported that the number of people leaving west Mosul decreased recently. From March 17-27 an average of 6,600 displaced (IDPs) reached the Hamam al-Alil screening center. That was down from 11,200 per day from March 6-16. There are also people coming back to Mosul as well. From March 24-26 for instance, 2,000 left camps to head back to their homes. A small, but increasing number of IDPs are being transported to Kurdistan rather than all of them staying at the ones south of the city. The director of the Joint Crisis Coordination Center in Kurdistan however warned that all the camps in Irbil were full. There was space for several thousand in Dohuk however, which is farther away. Finally, people in the Hamam al-Alil camps complained about overcrowding going on there. People are constantly moving in and out of Mosul. This is motivated by a number of reasons from the fighting, to shelling, to the lack of jobs and services, to the desire to check on their property. This will continue for the foreseeable future as only half of west Mosul is liberated.

SOURCES

AIN, "Thirty Daesh were killed in a bomb attack west of Mosul," 3/28/17

Amnesty International, “Iraq: Civilians killed by airstrikes in their homes after they were told not to flee Mosul,” 3/28/17

Arango, Tim, “At Site of Deaths, Our Reporters Find Cost of U.S.-ISIS Battle,” New York Times, 3/27/17

Baghdad Post, "Iraq's forces retook all of Yarmouk apartments area in Mosul," 3/22/17
- "Mortar shells land on houses in left bank of Mosul," 3/28/17

BBC, “Mosul battle: Coalition urged to review tactics after civilian deaths,” 3/28/17

Coles, Isabel, "Investigators Arrive In Mosul To Determine U.S. Involvement In Fatal Blast," Reuters, 3/28/17

Cumming-Bruce, Nick, “U.N. Urges Iraq and Allies to Rethink Tactics as Airstrikes Kill Civilians,” New York Times, 3/28/17

Dearden, Lizzie, “US-led coalition Mosul air strike killed up to 240 Iraqi civilians ‘because Isis snipers used roof,’” Independent, 3/28/17

Face Iraq, “Displaced people from West Mosul complain about overcrowding in camps and United Nation confirm the construction of new shelters – Video,” 3/28/17

Al Forqan, "Mosul..breaking into two new neighborhoods and people are fleeing," 3/28/17

Al Hoor News, "15 civilians were killed and wounded in shelling of Nabi Younis," 3/28/17

International Organization for Migration, “286,000 People Displaced as Families Continue to Lose Loved Ones Due to Mosul Operations,” 3/28/17

Al Maalomah, “Rapid Reaction Division: We are fighting in the areas adjacent to the Great Mosque in Mosul and it will be liberated soon,” 3/28/17

Al Mada, “Counterterrorism forces await the removal of civilians from old Mosul in preparation for attacking it,” 3/29/17
- “High number of wounded in Mosul leads relief organizations to demand an increase in medical support,” 3/29/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Police forces retake areas near central Mosul's Old City, approach landmark mosque," Iraqi News, 3/28/17

Rudaw, “Erbil province’s IDP camps are full, says KRG rep,” 3/28/17
- “’Fair chance’ coalition airstrike caused civilian deaths in Mosul, says general,” 3/28/17

Shafaaq News, “An air strike destroys the houses of four families in Hawi al-Kanisah in the center of Mosul,” 3/28/17
- “Anti-terrorism storms neighborhoods of Mosul and the popular crowd drops a drone west of the city,” 3/28/17
- “A survivor tells the details of the Mosul massacre,” 3/28/17

Stoffel, Derek, “’The house literally collapsed on us’: Mosul airstrikes that killed hundreds of civilians condemned,” CBC News, 3/28/17

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 27 March 2017,” 3/27/17

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Mosul: Protection of civilians paramount as ISIL intensifies use of human shields,” 3/28/17

Wille, Belkis, “Iraqi Troops Using Indiscriminate Weapons in Fight Against ISIS,” Human Rights Watch, 3/15/17


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