The Iraqi forces (ISF) continued clearing operations in west Mosul. First, several IS members were arrested in Tanak, Tamuz 17, and Islah Zirahi. The ISF have put up posters and started a public campaign to get people to report any IS suspects they see inside the city. Second, the army’s 16th Division, which is in control of sections of east Mosul is supposed to be take charge of the east in 72 hours. Third, the Iraqi authorities claimed in two weeks they will have explosives removed and started work on infrastructure and services so that large numbers of people can start returning to the west. They must mean just from main thoroughfares, because other reports have said it would take months if not years to clean up all the unexploded ordinance. Finally, a soldier was wounded by an IS sniper. Fighting may finally be over inside the city. There are only scattered reports of gunfire, and an occasional suicide bomber. Then again, there is still a ban on reporting in the western half unless on a presser with the ISF, so it’s impossible to be sure. If so, that leaves the Iraqi forces to the long and arduous tasks of hunting down IS members, and getting rid of leftover bombs.
Recently there have been accusations that militants have been able to escape the security forces. Former Ninewa Governor Atheel Nujafi was the latest to claim that insurgents were paying off the security forces or using fake IDs to get away. Former Finance and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari made similar statements to the Independent a few days ago. This comes after a series of stories that IS elements were hiding amongst the displaced to get out of the city. Hundreds of thousands came out of Mosul, so it was impossible to effectively clear everyone. The ISF like the rest of the government are also notoriously corrupt.
There were continued repercussions from a shootout between Hashd units in east Mosul. July 20, members of Kataib Sayid al-Shuhada were accused of robbing a store. This led to an argument that escalated to a gunfight with the Ninewa Guards. Sayid al-Shuhada later threatened the Guards if they didn’t withdraw from the area. A spokesman for the Ninewa police tried to smooth over the matter claiming that the incident was just a misunderstanding. At the same time, he told the press he called the Hashd leadership in Baghdad to calm tensions. Sayid al-Shuhada is not part of the security forces in the city. Why they were there, and what happened with the robbery accusations has never been explained. They continued to escalate the matter as well by talking about retaliating against the Guards. Various Hashd units have been moving in and out of Mosul and opening offices to assert their influence there. This just adds to the number of armed groups in the city, which the shootout shows are not a good thing.
Civil Defense teams think that there are more than 4,000 bodies still buried in west Mosul. According to the Joint Operations Command roughly 1,400 people have already been uncovered. Much of the west has been damaged from the fighting so there could be more than that still to be found.
Mosul is divided in two by the Tigris River. There used to be five bridges spanning the river, but those were all knocked out by Coalition air strikes. Now there is just one pontoon bridge to get from one side of the city to the other. People in the east are travelling to the west to check on their homes and belongings, and see whether they can move back. People from the west are looking for housing in the east because their places are destroyed or damaged. This demand is rapidly driving up prices for several things like rent and electricity, which is another burden as many people don’t have jobs.
The Washington Post had a story that there were two caches of radioactive cobalt 60 at Mosul University that IS could have used to build a dirty bomb. Western intelligence was worried about that contingency, but the militants either didn’t know about it or didn’t know how to handle the cobalt.
The Iraqi forces are preparing for the Tal Afar campaign. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry claimed it already started with a recent wave of air strikes. Half the units in Mosul are said to be heading towards the town. The village has been surrounded for months, but attacking it was held off until Mosul was finished, and because of threats from Turkey if the Hashd were involved. The government is finally focusing upon it.
AIN, “The army to receive Mosul security,” 7/23/17
Baghdad Post, “Video: ISIS ‘still controls some neighborhood in Mosul’ – researcher,” 7/23/17
Bas News, “IS Members Bribing Their Way Out Of Mosul: Ex-Nineveh Governor,” 7/23/17
Gibbons-Neff, Thomas and Loveluck, Louisa, “It could take more than a decade to clear Mosul of unexploded munitions, booby traps,” Washington Post, 7/13/17
Iraq News Center, “Iraq News Mosul Civil Defense: There are still more than 4 thousand civilian bodies buried under the rubble in the right bank,” 7/23/17
Iraq News Network, “Defense Ministry: Liberation of Tal Afar begins,” 7/23/17
- “Iraq army forces take Mosul city 72 hours later,” 7/23/17
- “Iraq Newspaper Reporter In Mosul: 13 Days After The Announcement Of Victory Daash Grabs A Reporter On The Right Bank,” 7/23/17
- “Ninewa Guards: The fighters in the popular crowd are our brothers,” 7/23/17
Iraq Newspaper, “Iraqi Newspaper Reporter: After Abadi denied casualty figures the joint operations attached the number of victims in the battle of Mosul,” 7/19/17
MacSwan, Angus, “Iraqi bridge is sole link for Mosul residents rebuilding lives,” Reuters, 7/22/17
New Sabah, “Iraqi Forces participating in the liberation of Mosul preparing to storm Tal Afar district before heading to Hawija,” 7/23/17
- “Massive public campaigns to report hidden elements in Mosul,” 7/23/17
Warrick, Joby and Morris, Loveday, “How ISIS nearly stumbled on the ingredients for a ‘dirty bomb,’” Washington Post, 7/23/17