Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mosul Campaign Day 236 Jun 9 2017


Destruction wrought by fighting in Zinjali, West Mosul (AFP)

The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) freed the second neighborhood in their final push on Mosul. The Federal Police announced that Zinjali was finally liberated. The ISF were also moving on Shifa where there has been no real progress so far. With this victory, there is just Shifa and the large Old Mosul district left under Islamic State control. At the start of the new offensive the ISF made a push into the Shifa medical district, but got ambushed by IS and were forced out. The Old City has held up the police for four months nw.

The Wall Street Journal wrote about the rebuilding going on in east Mosul. That section of the city was freed five months ago. Shops are open and life has generally returned. The government has provided some services and repaved main roads, but most of the reconstruction financing has come from private sources borrowing money or spending their savings. Prime Minister Haider Abadi blamed a lack of coordination between Baghdad and the Ninewa government for the limited rebuilding. In comparison, west Mosul is still a battlefield and has faced far more destruction than the east, and little is being done there as a result. That will make it a much larger problem. There is already some resentment building up over the differences between the two sections, which has historical precedents as the east has always been considered more well off than the west. Iraqis are a resilient group. They are not waiting for the government to help them put their lives together. At the same time, individuals can only do so much by themselves. They need the authorities to do the heavy lifting, but at the moment they don’t have a plan or the money to fund one.  

There were two additional stories of life in east Mosul improving. First, the University of Mosul started classes once again. The campus suffered extensive damage under the Islamic State, so most of the classrooms are unusable. Still, they are pushing ahead. Second, the Iraqi Real Estate Bank re-opened a branch in the east. It will be part of a government program to offer up to 50 million dinar loans for 10 years to help residents rebuild. The program won’t start until the entire city is freed however. A similar program was started in Anbar, but the requirements to borrow money were so strenuous that only the rich could apply. Hopefully that won’t be repeated in Mosul, but you can never tell.

The Washington Post cited sources that believed the U.S. led Coalition might have used white phosphorus in both Mosul and Raqqa. Video footages was posted from both cities of what looked like phosphorus artillery shells being used. To support the claim, the Pentagon posted pictures of 155mm howitzers being deployed in Syria with a pallet of white phosphorus shells. White phosphorus can be used to create smoke to obscure the enemy’s vision, but it can also be deployed as an incendiary as it burns at high temperatures when it hits the ground. The Iraqis have officially denied this story, but they are not a reliable source when it comes to bad news.

Deputy Hashd commander Abu Muhandis announced that its operations were finished in western Mosul, while the Kurds were still criticizing them. This was a victory speech as the Hashd still want to take Tal Afar and said they planned on clearing the Syrian-Iraq border from Ninewa all the way down to Anbar. A Kurdish parliamentarian issued a statement saying only the Peshmerga could be in the Sinjar district. He said other groups were just leading to instability there, meaning the Hashd. The Kurds feel that the Hashd’s presence threatens their control over Sinjar. That’s true because many Hashd group oppose Kurdish expansion into disputed areas like Sinjar. They have used the local Yazidis against the Kurds as well, recruiting them into their units, getting local militias to join their ranks, and liberating the remaining Yazidi towns from the Islamic State. This has led to a war of words between the two sides.

Finally, Kuwait remains one of the few regional countries providing aid to the people of Mosul and Ninewa. The Kuwait Red Crescent Society is handing out 4,000 food packages for Ramadan to displaced from Mosul. 750 were given to people in west Mosul with the rest to be distributed in the next few days. Iraq’s neighbors are always talking about how the country’s Sunnis are oppressed, but do little constructive for them. Kuwait is one of only two nations in the region that are stepping up to the plate and has consistently given assistance during the Mosul campaign.

SOURCES

Agence France Presse, “Iraq on cusp of Mosul victory three years after major defeat,” 6/9/17

AIN, “Video..90% of Zinjili freed and the evacuation of dozens of families,” 6/9/17

Al-Ayash, Kamal, “Rich Iraqis Only: In Anbar, Loans For Reconstruction – But Nobody May Apply,” Niqash, 6/9/17

Baghdad Post, “KDP threatens to use military force to expel IMIS from Sinjar,” 6/9/17

El-Ghobashy, Tamer and Ali Nabhan, “Torn by War on ISIS, Mosul Risks Lasting Division,” Wall Street Journal, 6/9/17

Gibbons-Neff, Thomas, “U.S.-led forces appear to be using white phosphorus in populated areas in Iraq and Syria,” Washington Post, 6/9/17

Jawad, Ali, “Iraqi state-run bank reopens branch in eastern Mosul,” Anadolu Agency, 6/9/17

Kuwait News Agency, “Kuwait charity delivers more aid to evacuees from Mosul,” 6/9/17

Mostafa, Mohamed, “Iraqi forces take over 90% of western Mosul’s Zanjili, push closer to Old City,” Iraqi News, 6/9/17

Murdock, Heather, “Deadly choices: Mosul families face gunfire, bombs or starvation,” Voice of America, 6/8/17

New Sabah, “Large preparations waiting for the zero hour to break into the old city in West Mosul,” 6/9/17

NRT, “University Of Mosul Resume Classes Despite Difficulties,” 6/9/17

Al Rafidain, “Government Forces Trying To Recover Zanjili Neighborhood In West Mosul From The Islamic State Organization,” 6/9/17

Shafaaq News, "URGENT Iraqi forces liberate al-Zanjili neighborhood in Mosul," 6/9/17

Al Sumaria, “Engineer announces the end of the popular mobilization operations in western Mosul,” 6/9/17

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