Friday, June 9, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 235 Jun 8 2017


The major fighting in Mosul remained in the Zinjali neighborhood in the center of the city. The army, police and Golden Division are all involved. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were originally overly optimistic claiming it could clear Zinjali, Shifa and Saha by June 1. The last one is the only one that has been liberated so far, and that was on June 2. The Iraqi forces are constantly claiming that victory is around the corner as part of its propaganda campaign. Others predicted that this final battle would be the toughest so far and that is proving true.

The Associated Press had a harrowing story of how people attempting to flee the grasp of the Islamic State were gunned down in Mosul. On June 1, several hundred civilians were attempting to get to government lines in the city when they were hit by IS snipers. The ISF returned fire to try to cover the people’s escape. Many were hit and laid out on the street for up to two days wounded and dying. The Coalition brought in air strikes to suppress the IS fire and allow a rescue. One medic had a tank come up and shield people. The United Nations reported that up to 163 died that day, while an Iraqi colonel put the figure at 150. One clinic treated 40 wounded as well.

The United Nations included that incident in a warning about the increasing civilian toll in the fighting in Mosul. The 163 deaths occurred in Shifa, which is next to Zinjali in the middle of the city. On May 26, another 27 were killed by the Islamic State in that same neighborhood, and then 41 more on June 3, again in Shifa. An air strike was also blamed for 50-80 fatalities in Zinjali. The United Nations wrote that some of these events could be considered war crimes. West Mosul had a denser population and layout than the east. The Iraqi and Coalition forces have also deployed more mortars, artillery and air strikes, and the insurgents continue to use human shields and attack anyone they see attempting to leave their areas. All combined that has led to an incredible amount of casualties.

Reuters wrote a piece about extra judicial killings and group punishment going on in Ninewa. 15 men were found blindfolded, bound and shot dead along a road in a town outside of Mosul. One had an ID, which Reuters investigated and found that he was on a government wanted list for IS suspects. Its believed that some security force was responsible for the shootings. These murders were included in a recent Human Rights Report (HRW) paper that documented similar incidents. Reuters also talked with families being held at a camp, which HRW called an “open air prison” for IS families. One family was kicked out of their village because some of their relatives joined the militants. They were then held at a displacement camp by government forces and were not allowed to leave for 5 months. Both of these stories are one of many that highlight the fact that Iraq has a broken justice system. The joint Iraqi forces often kill suspects rather than send them to courts for any number of reasons. The authorities also don’t have any policy to deal with IS relatives or suspects, and many in the province want revenge against those people. What’s happening in Ninewa has happened in other provinces such as Anbar and Salahaddin, and that is to punish the families along with those individuals that joined the Islamic State. Baghdad has no plan on how to deal with this issue, and it’s an open question if it would be followed through with if one was formulated. Local forces, families and tribes are likely to dish out their own brand of justice, another sign that the legacy of IS will last a long time in Iraq.

The Hashd were still clearing areas in west Mosul along the Syrian border, and drawing more criticism from the Kurds. The Hashd took the village and border crossing of the same name in Tal Safwak. The Syrian Kurd People’s Protection Units (YPG) controlled the other side of the crossing. Deputy Hashd commander Abu Muhandis called the YPG “our Syrian Kurdish brothers.” On the other hand, the Peshmerga commander for Sinjar Qasim Shushu claimed that 300 Yazidis that had joined the Hashd quit. He told the press that they had become disillusioned. The Hashd have had two goals in their Ninewa campaign. One was to clear the border region of IS elements. The other was to put its forces along that of the Kurds in the Sinjar district. Many Hashd have said they oppose Kurdish independence and its annexation of the disputed areas such as Sinjar. Their presence has led to a war of words between the two sides. Others believe that the pro-Iran Hashd units want to reach the Syrian border to assist Iran in sending men and materials overland to assist the Assad government.

The number of displaced from the fighting continued to rise. The International Organization for Migration recorded 379,014 registered displaced (IDPs) on June 4. That grew to 386,400 by June 8. There are many more that have never signed up with the authorities that have fled their homes as well. At the end of the week the number of IDPs coming out of Mosul increased to 25,000 from June 6-7. Earlier in the week only 2,000-3,000 were leaving per day. There has also been new displacement from Tal Afar and Baaj in west Ninewa. Those people are being sent to Hamam al-Alil for screening and then onto IDP camps. The United Nations just opened a new camp Al Salamaiya 2 south of Mosul and around 2,400 IDPs have entered so far. There are other camps with room to the east and north of the city, but the Iraqi authorities are not telling people about them, nor providing transportation to them.

SOURCES

Buratha News, "The crowd repulsed an attack by terrorists who fled into Syrian territory and killed the attackers," 6/8/17

Coles, Isabel, “Rough justice in Iraq: one man’s path to mass execution by the roadside,” Reuters, 6/8/17

Erm News, "A Rapid Reaction Division Commander was killed by a mortar west Mosul," 6/8/17

Human Rights Watch, “Iraq: Dozens Found Handcuffed, Executed in, around Mosul,” 6/4/17

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet #32 – Mosul Operations From 17 October To 8 June,” 6/8/17

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: June 8, 2017," 6/8/17

Al Jazeera, "UN: ISIL kills 163 people in Mosul in one day," 6/6/17

Al Mada, “Joint forces pursue those that escaped security checks in Mosul camps,” 6/8/17

Mostafa, Nehal, “Civilians killed, injured as Iraqi troops shell Mosul’s Old City,” Iraqi News, 6/8/17

Niqash, “Secular Snacks: Mosul Locals Taste New Freedoms During Post-Extremist Ramadan,” 6/8/17

Ramsay, Stuart, “Mosul battle a ‘deadly game of cat and mouse’ with Islamic State,” Sky News, 6/8/17

Rojkan, Mira, "Civilians Killed, Injured by Iraqi Army Shelling in Mosul's Old City," Bas News, 6/8/17
- "IS Again Uses Chemical Weapons on Civilians in Mosul," Bas News, 6/8/17

Rudaw, “Hashd forces retake Ira-Syria border checkpoint from ISIS,” 6/8/17

Shafaaq News, "Iraqi forces converge to liberate Zinjali in Mosul and soldiers wounded in two attacks," 6/8/17

Sotaliraq, “Hundreds of Yazidis left the ranks of the popular crowd,” 6/9/17

Szlanko, Balint, “Bullets fell like rain: Fleeing Iraqis caught in IS ambush,” Associated Press, 6/8/17

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 8 June 2017” 6/8/17

UN News Centre, “Recent killings in western Mosul indicative of rising atrocities against civilians – UN rights arm,” 6/8/17

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