Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 54, Dec 9, 2016

The Golden Division continued to make slow but steady progress in east Mosul. Adil, Tamim, and Alam for the second time were freed. Three other areas were also recaptured from the Islamic State. There was continued fighting in Noor, that was freed two days ago, and Wahda, which witnessed the ambush of elements of the 9th Division a few days ago.

The rest of the Iraqi forces were mostly clearing areas. The Federal Police in the southwest, the 9th Division in the southeast, and the Hashd in the west were all going through buildings and roads looking for Islamic State fighters and IEDs to defuse. The Iraqi forces just said they had cleared the entire southern front, but that apparently was another exaggeration. Hunting down unexploded ordinance and searching for IS members has been one of the reasons why the Mosul campaign outside of the eastern front has been stalled for so long.

The taking of Tal Afar appears up in the air as well. The Hashd reached the district in the middle of November. Those forces originally said they would take the town, but due to political objections Baghdad made an agreement with Turkey to have the army and Federal police do it instead. That has not happened yet. In the meantime members of the Iraqi Turkmen Front travelled to Turkey and met with President Recep Erdogan and jointly called for a Turkmen force to free the town. The Turkmen Front has been an ally of Ankara for years now, and Erdogan has used it to justify its intervention in Iraq’s domestic politics. The party no longer holds as much sway as it once did because the sectarian war split the community between Sunnis and Shiites and armed groups moved into the ascendency. If a Shiite Turkmen force were to move into Tal Afar for example, it would garner strong objections from the Front and its Turkish sponsors. Overall, the meeting and statement was just another attempt by Erdogan to put pressure on Baghdad and exert Turkey’s influence in Ninewa.

Several Iraqi intelligence officers spoke with the Associated Press. They told AP they wanted a slower approach to taking Mosul to allow for targeted strikes to take out IS leaders. Instead the pace was much quicker and the officers complained that most top ranking IS members got out of the city in October. More importantly the intelligence agents said that Iraq had plans to attack IS in Syria after the insurgents were defeated in Iraq.

Finally, the number of displaced took a slight dip. The International Organization for Migration reported that there were 82,698 displaced in Ninewa, down from 83,988 the day before. It said the reason for the decline was a more thorough vetting of those registered. Still even with the lower figure the number of people fleeing their homes has taken another decided jump. On December 2 there were 77,826 displaced meaning there has been a 4,872 increase in just a week’s time. More people continue to leave the battle zone. For example, the 16th Division noted that around 200 families evacuated the Hadbaa neighborhood in the north for the Iraqi lines. As the ISF pushes further into Mosul more people are likely to join the displaced.


AIN, “Results of operations Ninewa We Are Coming on Friday,” 12/9/16
- "Urgent freed neighborhoods of Adil, Alam and Tamim on the left coast of the city," 12/9/16

Al Alam, "VIDEO: 3 Districts Near Mosul Freed, Fierce Clashes in Al Salam District," 12/9/16

Bas News, "Iraqi Forces Retake Two More Neighborhoods Eastern Mosul," 12/6/16

eKurd, “Iraqi Kurdistan News in brief – December 9, 2016,” 12/9/16

Hendawi, Hamza and Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraq Prepares for New Fight Against Post-Mosul IS,” Associated Press, 12/9/16

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet 6# - Mosul Operations From 17 October To 8 December,” 12/8/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Nov. 21, 2016," 11/21/16

Al Mada, “Evacuation of 200 families from central Mosul while security forces arrested Daesh members hiding amongst them,” 12/9/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Iraqi forces partially retake al-Aalam district at eastern Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/6/16
- "Update: Iraqi troops liberate 28 districts in eastern Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/9/16

NINA, "Anti-Terrorism Forces Storm 3 Residential Neighborhoods In Mosul, kill 16 Terrorists," 11/30/16
- "Iraqi forces killed a suicide bomber from Daesh and stormed three new residential neighborhoods east of Mosul," 12/3/16

Rudaw, "ISIS deploy car bombs against advancing Iraqi forces in eastern Mosul," 12/9/16

Friday, December 9, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 53, Dec 8, 2016

More details came out on the ambush of the 9th Division in the Wahda district of southeast Mosul. On December 7, a force from the 9th Division attacked the Wahda area and found little resistance. Rather than clear the area a decision was made to drive on the Salam hospital. When they reached the facility the Islamic State beset them on all sides. 15 Suicide car bombs along with mortar and small arms fire killed at least 20 soldiers and wounded many more. One soldier told the Associated Press he thought everyone in his unit was either killed or wounded in the fighting. The Golden Division organized a rescue force from the east and got the soldiers out. The Joint Operations Command tried to paper over the setback by claiming they withdrew to stop the hospital from being damaged. That must have been why U.S. airstrikes were called in to hit the facility to cover the Iraqi forces (ISF) retreat. The Coalition said it saw no civilians in the area when it struck the hospital. A nurse at Salam said that was because all the staff and patients fled to the basement to avoid the fighting. They could have easily been killed or wounded in the bombing. It appeared this was an attempt to make a pincer movement and encircle the center of east Mosul. The Iraqi command had been talking about a change in strategy, and this may have been part of it. Unfortunately it did not work out.

On December 8 the Golden Division made more advances. Two more neighborhoods were attacked. General Fazil Barwari from the unit said that his forces were 3.5 km from the Old Mosul Bridge and the Tigris River that divides the city. Its taken them more than a month however to get that far, and it doesn’t appear the advance will be any quicker in the coming days and weeks.

The Federal Police in the south clashed with IS in the south. It said it attacked some insurgent positions, killing some fighters, and destroying vehicles and three tunnels. An officer stated that they had finally cleared the entire southern front, but it was not apparent whether the fighting was anything more than a skirmish or an actual move on Mosul.

In the west, the Hashd freed a town and relayed their future plans. Tal Abta was taken, a town, which the Hashd said they had liberated two days before. That was probably when they arrived in the area. The Iraqi forces have a bad habit of getting caught up in their own victory narrative and declaring areas freed before they have even been attacked. A spokesman for the Hashd told the press that the town would be used as a launching point to head towards the Syrian border. The goal of the Hashd was to reach Tal Afar and cut off Mosul from Syria. They will not be allowed to go into the town itself due to the tensions and political complaints it might create, so they now have a new mission of heading west. The taking of Tal Afar itself is delayed like the rest of the Mosul campaign. Army and Federal Police units are supposed to liberate it, but nothing has been done so far.

The U.N. delivered supplies to east Mosul again, setting off another mini-riot. Trucks arrived in Zuhur with aid. When civilians found out they pushed through a gate and climbed a wall to the distribution center forcing police to fire into the air to gain control over the situation. This was the second time this has happened marking bad preparation by the authorities, as well as the growing desperation of the population for basic necessities, which are growing scarce due to the fighting.

Finally, there has been more reporting on casualties recently. For the week of December 1-7, 60 incidents were reported leading to 231 dead made up of 28 Hashd, 43 soldiers and 160 civilians. Another 754 were wounded consisting of 77 soldiers and 677 civilians. 30 car bombs hit the Iraqi forces and residents with another 27 destroyed. Probably more occurred than were reported.


Al Aalem, “A spokesman for the popular crowd: Tal Abta will be a springboard for the liberation of all the areas towards the Syrian border,” 12/8/16

Associated Press, “A lethal mistake leads to a harrowing ambush in Iraq’s Mosul,” 12/8/16

Al Maalomah, "Popular crowd frees Tal Abta fully west of Mosul," 12/8/16

Al Mada, “Counter terrorism forces in the health district eastern hub of Mosul,” 12/8/16
- "Counter terrorism forces remain in the health district in the eastern hub of Mosul," 12/8/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Al-Hashd al-Shaabi liberate Tal Abta in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/6/16

NINA, “Federal Police forces liberated the entire southern area axis and stationed close to 3 km from the center of the city of Mosul,” 12/7/16

Rasheed, Ahmed, Hameed, Saif, and Coles, Isabel, “Iraqi troops pull out from Mosul hospital after fierce battle,” Reuters, 12/8/16

Rudaw, “UPDATE: Coalition admits targeting ISIS in Mosul hospital,” 12/8/16
- "We will reach the Tigris soon, says Iraqi commander in Mosul," 12/8/16

Al Sumaria, “Federal Police announce killing 19 terrorists and destroyed three tunnels south of Mosul,” 12/8/16

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 52, Dec 7, 2016

The Iraqi forces (ISF) faced a mixture of continued advances and setbacks in its fighting in eastern Mosul. On the positive side, the Golden Division supported by a unit from the 16th Division freed Noor, Muthanna and Siha. That marked the 55th neighborhood reached so far in the city. The 9th Division and a SWAT unit and the Golden Division also attacked Masarif and Salam, both of which were freed twice before. On the negative side, the 9th Division made a thrust into southeast Mosul reaching the Salam Hospital in the Wahda neighborhood on December 6. It appeared that the ISF was trying to make a pincer movement and surround the central section of the Left Coast of the city. On December 7 the Islamic State launched a determined counterattack and drove the ISF out of the hospital. An armored unit and troops from the Golden Division had to be sent in to rescue the soldiers stuck in the hospital and secure their escape. An officer told Reuters that it appeared the insurgents let them into the neighborhood so that they could be ambushed. In the process the 9th Division had to withdraw from the Wahda and Sumer areas. There is still no movement on the northern and southern fronts. The previous two days the southern neighborhoods were shelled, but there was no such news on December 7. Instead, Al Mada reported that the army is still waiting for the order to move out and attack the Mosul airport.

In the west the Hashd attacked the town of Tal Faris. It has also had a hard time controlling the Tal Afar to Mosul road. The Hashd units are still waiting for the army and police to organize a force to take Tal Afar itself. Until then the Hashd are trying to hold the roads and clearing the towns in the area.

Iraq Oil Report in its daily journal, “Inside Mosul” noted that IS is forcing civilians from the Bakr, Mithaq and Tamim neighborhoods into the western side of the city. The militants were threatening to kill people if they didn’t leave. They are likely to be used as human shields.

Finally, Reuters ran a story that Iran, Russia and France played a role in the Mosul campaign plan. Originally, the northern, eastern, and southern sides of Mosul were to be taken leaving an escape route to the west to Syria for civilians and IS fighters to flee. A similar tactic was used in previous sieges in Iraq. Tehran, Moscow and Paris objected. The first two did not want Islamic State men moving into Syria where they could be used to fight the Assad government, which the two countries support. France on the other hand, wanted to eliminate as many IS members as possible in Mosul fearing future terrorist attacks. As a result of this lobbying the Hashd were sent west to cut off Mosul from all sides. A negative consequence of this revision is that there are hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped within the city, which has greatly complicated the fighting as they have been used as human shields, and have stopped the ISF from using its heavy firepower. It has also left IS with no other choice but to fight to the death as few can expect to escape if they tried.


Bas News, "Iraqi Forces Approaching Center of Mosul," 12/7/16
- "Iraqi Forces Retake Two More Neighborhoods Eastern Mosul," 12/6/16

Evans, Dominic, Chmaytelli, Maher and Markey, Patrick, “How Iran closed the Mosul ‘horseshoe’ and changed Iraq war,” Reuters, 12/7/16

Al Forat, "Popular Mobilization Forces initiate attack on the southern village of Tal Faris western Mosul," 12/7/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Dec. 7, 2016," 12/7/16
- "Inside Mosul: Nov. 6, 2016," 11/6/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 25, 2016," 11/25/16

Al Mada, “Revision to the plan to liberate Mosul and Tal Afar from Daesh,” 12/7/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, “Iraqi troops withdraw as ISIS attacks leave deaths in Mosul,” Iraqi News, 12/7/16

Rasheed, Ahmed, “Islamic State attacks Iraqi soldiers in Mosul,” Reuters, 12/7/16

Rojkan, Mira, "Joint Forces Continue to Advance, Liberating More Areas in Mosul," Bas News, 12/4/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces gain ground, fight heavy clashes with IS militants in Mosul," 11/29/16

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 51, Dec 6, 2016

There was fighting across eastern Mosul, while the Iraqi forces (ISF) reached new areas of the city. Starting at 6 am air strikes hit southeast Mosul paving the way for the 9th Division to move forward into the Wahda and Mithaq neighborhoods. By the end of the day the Salam Hospital had been reached. Wahda was originally reached on November 30, while Mithaq was new. The goal of this thrust was to reach the Tigris River and the Fourth Bridge that spans it. There were also clashes in Noor, originally penetrated on November 6, Shaimaa, Dumiz, Barid, liberated before, Masarif, freed twice, and Qadisiya. The papers didn’t say whether it was Qadisiya 1, which has been freed twice or Qadisiya 2, which was freed once. Shaimaa and Dumiz were just breached. Aalam, the 53rd neighborhood reached, and Shuhada, originally attacked on November 30 were both freed. Four areas in southern Mosul were shelled for the second day. The Iraqi command said that a revision in the overall campaign is coming. Hopefully this is the start of a new move by the rest of the 9th Division and the Federal Police aimed at the Mosul airport, which was supposed to be breached a month ago. The southern and northern fronts have been stalled for weeks now due to a combination of exhaustion, Islamic State resistance, and the lack of supporting forces to hold the areas they already took. That has left all the fighting to the Golden Division, along with elements of the 9th Divisions, and another brigade.

In the west, the Hashd took Tal Abta. The Hashd reached the Tal Afar district in the middle of November and have since surrounded the town of the same name. The 16th Division and Federal Police are supposed to take the town itself. That hasn’t materialized yet leaving the Hashd to move into the surrounding villages.

The humanitarian crisis within Mosul continues. A Rudaw reporter was in the Barid neighborhood and found families huddling together trying to escape the fighting. In one house for example, there were 70 people. There are continued shortages of essentials such as fuel for cooking and water. All the shops have closed in the eastern half of the city, and the Islamic State is no longer distributing goods to that area either. The military and non-governmental organizations are trying to truck in water to some areas. Aid groups are worried that these situations will only get worse as the battle to take the city drags on.

The Ishtar satellite channel followed Christians visiting several towns in the Ninewa plains. They found cemeteries and shrines destroyed and defaced. In the town of Karemlash, the Islamic State dug up the grave of Saint Addai the Apostle Church. IS originally claimed that Christians could live in its caliphate as long as they paid religious taxes or converted, but the reality quickly sunk in that they would be targeted leading most of the community to flee.

The United Nations and International Organization for Migration (IOM) had new information on the displacement caused by the Mosul operation. The number of registered displaced took another jump. At the end of November there were 76,464, which went up to 82,068 by December 6. Another 8,000 have returned to their homes, mostly in Nimrod and east Mosul. Winter is upon Iraq and aid groups and most of the displaced are living in camps, which are not prepared to deal with freezing temperatures and rain. This is another pending crisis organizations are worried about.

The U.N. also provided some more insight into casualties. It said that 1,246 injured people had been treated at Irbil hospitals since the battle for Mosul started on November 17. One facility in east Mosul sees up to 1,000 people a day injured in the fighting. This has totally overwhelmed the health groups.


Adel, Loaa, "Joint forces continue liberating 6 areas in western coast of Mosul," Iraqi News, 11/17/16
- “Photos: Destruction of Christian graves on hands of ISIS,” Iraqi News, 12/6/16
- "Photos: ISIS beheads 2 Shia Soldiers near Tal Afar," Iraqi News, 12/6/16

Al Alam, "Iraqi Forces Establish Control over Key Hospital in Western Mosul," 12/6/16

George, Susannah and Salaheddin, Sinan, “Iraq launches new push in southeast Mosul,” Associated Press, 12/6/16

International Organization for Migration, “IOM Iraq Emergency Tracking: Mosul Operations DATA SNAPSHOT: 6 December 2016,” 12/6/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 6, 2016," 11/6/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 25, 2016," 11/25/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 30, 2016," 11/30/16
- "Inside Mosul, Dec. 6, 2016," 12/6/16

Al Masalah, "Freed two areas east Mosul and killed 19 Daash," 12/6/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Al-Hashd al-Shaabi liberate Tal Abta in western Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/6/16
- "Iraqi army engages in ferocious fights with ISIS east of Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/6/16
- "Iraqi forces partially retake al-Aaalam district at eastern Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/6/16

New Sabah, "A break in the fight against terrorism as Qadisiyah neighborhood in Mosul is completely freed," 11/11/16

NINA, "Anti-Terrorism Forces Storm 3 Residential Neighborhoods In Mosul, kill 16 Terrorists," 11/30/16

Rasheed, Ahmed and Markey, Patrick, “Iraqi army launches fresh assault towards Mosul center,” Reuters, 12/6/16

Rudaw, "Army says three more Mosul neighborhoods taken from ISIS," 11/30/16
- "Civilians shelter in place under heavy clashes in Mosul's northeast," 12/6/16

Shafaq News, "Urgent anti-terrorism forces attack the martyrs neighborhood," 11/30/16

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq: Mosul Humanitarian Response Situation Report #10 (28 November – 4 December 2016),” 12/4/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces gain ground, fight heavy clashes with IS militants in Mosul," 11/29/16

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 50, Dec 5, 2016

The Golden Division claimed activity in two parts of east Mosul. The Tahrir neighborhood was freed for the third time. Barid was also attacked. That area was first entered on November 30. The Iraqi forces have found it difficult to maintain control of many of the neighborhoods on the frontline because of Islamic State counterattacks and infiltration. It has become part of the back and forth nature of the operation that neighborhoods change hands several times. Overall, more areas are being attacked and freed it has just been a slow and very difficult process.

There was activity on other fronts as well. In the north the Iraqi forces liberated three towns. In the south at least one neighborhood of Mosul was struck by artillery. The Iraqi police said that they were not close enough to fire on the city yet. A military source claimed that the fire was coming from French artillery. There has been very little activity on these two fronts for weeks now. They are hopefully beginning to ramp up for another push on the city to help relieve the pressure on those forces that are already inside Mosul in the east.

Inside Mosul there was internal displacement going on. A major in a SWAT outfit said that the Islamic State went through three areas of east Mosul and forced residents from their homes to convert them into battle positions. Al Jazeera on the other hand was in Zahra where it talked with people who said families were fleeing from convict zones into other people’s homes in the district. Talking with a clinic set up in a house in Samah Al Jazeera also heard that up to 50 people, mostly civilians were being wounded a day from the fighting.

Finally, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the press that Mosul could fall before Donald Trump was inaugurated president on January 20, 2017. That is a little more time than Prime Minister Haidar Abadi has talked about as he has set a date for the end of this year. Still, neither is probably right as it looks like taking the city will be a very drawn out fight.


Ali, Idrees, “Recapture of Mosul ‘possible’ before next U.S. administration: Pentagon chief,” Reuters, 12/5/16

Bas News, "Iraqi Forces Retake Two More Neighborhoods East of Mosul," 11/17/16

Beck, John, “Mosul residents ‘won’t leave’ despite dire conditions,” Al Jazeera, 12/5/16

Evans, Dominic and Rasheed, Ahmed, “West Mosul shelled as Iraq steps up fight against Islamic State,” Reuters, 12/5/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul: Nov. 5, 2016," 11/5/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 30, 2016," 11/30/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Security recapture 8 Mosul villages, Hashd rescue 200 families," Iraqi News, 12/5/16

Rudaw, "Fierce clashes in Mosul as army tries to push into new neighborhoods to evict ISIS," 12/5/16

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 49, Dec 4, 2016

The Golden Division claimed some new and old neighborhoods in eastern Mosul. Salam was liberated for the second time, Aden and Intisar for the third time, and Zuhur for the fourth. Younis Sabawi, first attacked on November 11, Palestine entered on November 13, and Mufti assaulted on November 17 were finally cleared, along with Jadida the 50th neighborhood reached so far.

The day before the Islamic State launched a series of attacks across Mosul. The group hit eight neighborhoods on December 3, even able to capture some of them in the process. IS has constantly counterattacked, but December 2-3 were especially heavy as there was poor weather limiting air cover and giving the militants relative freedom of movement.

There has been minimal movement on the northern and southern fronts for the past few weeks. They are almost a month behind reaching Mosul itself. The commander of the Rapid Reaction Force in the south said it was waiting for orders to move out and was aiming for Albu Saif before it reached the Mosul airport. No word was given when this new effort was supposed to start. The original campaign plan was to seize the city’s suburbs and then attack on multiple fronts to spread out the defenders, while the Golden Division was to take the lead. That fell apart quickly as the Golden Division reached the eastern half of the city far before everyone else and was told by Baghdad to enter anyway. That entire plan is now being revised.

Finally, the Associated Press accompanied a series of aid trucks to eastern Mosul and two neighboring towns. In one area there were no authorities present and the people ended up fighting with each other trying to snatch as many supplies as they could. In the Bakr neighborhood of Mosul things were more organized, and civilians were cued up waiting to collect food, heating oil, water and other goods. The aid convoy was in response to warnings by non-governmental organizations that a humanitarian crisis could be breaking out in the east with winter approaching and no services or food available.


Adel, Loaa, "Anti-Terrorism forces kill 13 ISIS members near Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/3/16

Bas News, "Iraqi Forces Retake Two More Neighborhoods East of Mosul," 11/17/16
- "Mosul: Iraqi Forces Liberate Two Other Neighborhoods," 12/2/16

Al Forat, "Al Forat Announces incursion into five neighborhoods on Mosul's left coast,
and continued clearing of Tal Afar Airport," 11/17/16

Hameed, Saif and Laessing, Ulf, “Islamic State strikes back to slow Iraqi forces in Mosul,” Reuters, 12/4/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Dec 3, 2016," 12/3/16
- "Inside Mosul: Nov. 1, 2016," 11/1/16
- "Inside Mosul: Nov. 13, 2016," 11/13/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 21, 2016," 11/21/16
- "Inside Mosul, Nov. 29, 2016," 11/29/16

Al Mada, "Breaking into eight districts and increases pressure on Daesh on the left coast," 11/11/16

Mizban, Hadi and Salaheddin, Sinan, “Chaos erupts as Iraq delivers aid to Mosul,” Associated Press, 12/4/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

New Sabah, "Anti-terrorism forces edge up to the Tigris from the Left Coast after the liberation of Akhaa, Zuhur, and Aden," 12/4/16

NINA, "Iraqi Forces Kill 20 And Arrest 11 North Of Mosul," 3/12/16
- "Iraqi forces killed a suicide bomber from Daesh and stormed three new residential neighborhoods east of Mosul," 12/3/16

Rojkan, Mira, "Joint Forces Continue to Advance, Liberating More Areas in Mosul," Bas News, 12/4/16

Shafaq News, "Three civilians were injured by Daesh shooting northeast Mosul," 12/3/16

World Bulletin, "Suicide bombing kills 12 in Iraq's Mosul," 12/3/16

Xinhua, "Iraqi forces clear areas freed from IS in eastern Mosul," 11/9/16
- "Iraqi forces free more districts in eastern Mosul," 11/4/16

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Musings On Iraq In The News

I was quoted in “Controversial Iraqi militias now part of army after parliamentary vote,” by Alex MacDonald in Middle East Eye. I was mentioned in "Schlacht um Mossul: Barriere im Suden und zahe Kampfe im Osten" in Der Standard. Schlacht um Mossul: Barriere im Süden und zähe Kämpfe im Osten -

Mosul Campaign Day 48, Dec 3, 2016

The Golden Division freed another neighborhood in east Mosul. The 16th Division liberated four towns in the north as well. The latter was significant because it was the first time movement was reported on the northern front since November 21. Almost a month ago the forces in the north were supposed to reach Mosul, but have been sitting in place for weeks. Part of that was due to having to secure the territory that was taken. Another reason was the tough defense the Islamic State put up, plus there were reports that some units had been exhausted. Hopefully this is a sign that the 16th Division will be moving once again. A member of the Ninewa council added some more information as to why the southern front is similarly stalled. He stated that there were not enough forces to hold the areas in the south making army units stay in place. Local fighters were supposed to be organized in Ninewa for this task, but it didn't happen. An officer from the 9th Division complained about the police forces sent to the south of Mosul being subpar, and army units being called up to support them.

Overall, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve said that 20% of Mosul had bee liberated so far. The city was entered at the very end of October showing that it has been very slow going so far.

Changes are coming. A member of the Ninewa Council told Al Mada that the United States wanted a pause in operations to allow civilians to get out of the combat zones, but that was rejected. Iraqi commanders made a similar request of Prime Minister Abadi and got the same response. The Defense Ministry did announce that the campaign plan was going to be revised, but provided no details as to how.

The Islamic State began several counterattacks on December 2 lasting into the next day. On the 2nd three towns in the Tal Afar district were attacked by mortars, suicide car bombs and small arms, which led to the death of 13 Hashd. The fighting there lasted into the 3rd and was expanded by operations against four more towns plus four areas of Mosul. Another 24 civilians were killed and 18 wounded by a truck bomb in the city, and 3 more wounded in fighting. 2 soldiers were killed and 29 wounded in a double car bombing in Kanos south of Mosul. There has been poor weather in the district, which has limited air strikes, which allowed IS to carry out these attacks. An officer said the Iraqi forces were pushed out of some areas in Mosul by the day’s fighting, but this is part of the back and forth going on in the city.

Reuters reporters were in Gogjali in eastern Mosul and saw Shiite flags and religious slogans being spray painted on the walls of the city. Flags of Imam Hussein were put up on a Sunni mosque and next to shops and a call to Hussein was spray painted on several buildings. A Sunni man from the neighborhood said that the army should be more neutral, while the soldiers said there was nothing wrong about the flags and graffiti. The Iraqi government is hoping that the Mosul operation can win over the population, which has had a difficult relationship with the central government. The Iraqi forces portraying themselves as a Shiite force rather than an Iraqi one will not help in that effort.

There was another story on the hardships developing within Mosul. There are more claims of food and fuel shortages in the city, and rising prices. A water pipe has cut of water to over half a million people in the eastern side of the city, and because of the fighting there is no way to repair it. That added to the poor weather could lead to a miserable winter for the population.

On December 1, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released its monthly casualty report, which was criticized by the Iraqi forces. The U.N. said that 1,966 members of the Iraqi forces, Peshmerga, Sahwa and Hashd had been killed in November, along with 468 being wounded. Most of those probably happened in the Mosul area. The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said that those figures were exaggerated without giving any correction of its own. In response, UNAMI said that it would halt its reporting until it found a way to confirm its numbers. This is a huge loss for war reporting as the Iraqi government is censoring its casualties. The United Nations is the only group trying to capture comprehensive civilian and military casualties in the country, and reporting on it. Iraq Body Count for example only covers deaths, and does not include members of the Peshmerga, army or Golden Division because they are not civilian forces like the police. This will create a huge gap in keeping up with the cost of the war.


Adel, Loaa, "Anti-Terrorism forces kill 13 ISIS members near Mosul," Iraqi News, 12/3/16,
- “Residents alarmed as Iraqi soldiers spray Shi’ite graffiti in Mosul,” Iraqi News, 12/3/16

AIN, "Urgent counterterrorism liberate Kafat neighborhood in the left coast of Mosul," 12/3/16
- “Urgent Defense: Change in the military plans to liberate Mosul,” 12/3/16

Anadolu Agency, "Suicide attack kills 13 Shia militiamen in N. Iraq," 12/4/16

Associated Press, "Under dusty fog cover, IS strikes Iraqi forces near Mosul," 12/3/16

Iraq Oil Report, “Inside Mosul, Dec 3, 2016,” 12/3/16

Al Mada, “Nineveh government rejects US proposal to freeze operations and request intervention of Apaches,” 12/3/16

New Sabah, "Thwarted big Daesh attack between Tal Afar and Sinjar," 12/3/16

Rasheed, Ahmed, "Mosul residents fear cold and hunger of winter siege," Reuters, 12/3/16

Rojkan, Mira, “20% of Mosul Free from IS,” Bas News, 12/3/16

Rudaw, "Iraqi army makes gains southeast of Mosul," 11/23/16

Shafaq News, "Three civilians were injured by Daesh shooting northeast Mosul," 12/3/16

United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, “UN Casualty Figures for Iraq for the Month of November 2016,” 12/1/16
- “UNAMI Statement in Response to Criticism on Reporting Military Casualties,” 12/3/16

World Bulletin, "Suicide bombing kills 12 in Iraq's Mosul," 12/3/16

Xinhua, "Security forces recapture 4 villages near Mosul, repel 2 IS attacks in northern Iraq," 12/4/16

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 47, Dec 2, 2016

On December 1 no advances were reported in the Mosul campaign, but the Iraqi forces (ISF) were back at it on December 2. Zuhur in east Mosul was declared freed for the third time, but once again it appeared that fighting was still going on there. The Islamic State counterattacked in Qadisiya, while the ISF moved into Meshraq, the 47th neighborhood of the city entered so far.

Front line commanders tried to lobby to change the tactics for taking Mosul, but Abadi and his military advisers denied them. Before the assault on the city began flyers were dropped telling residents to stay in their homes. This was done because the government and aid agencies lacked the means to take care of a mass exodus of people out of Mosul. What has happened is that the civilians have gotten in the way of the fighting. The Islamic State has hid amongst them, while the ISF has been greatly restrained in using its heavy firepower when there are so many citizens in the way. Officers went to Baghdad asking for them to be allowed to tell people to evacuate the battle zones, but the prime minister rejected their plea. That means the advance will continue at its deliberate pace.

In the west the Hashd announced that they had surrounded Tal Afar. They are now waiting for ISF forces from the north to shift to the town. One of those units will be the 92nd Brigade, 15th Division. Many of the soldiers are said to be Shiites driven out of the town by the insurgency. The commander of the 15th Division General Emad Silawi said that the Hashd might follow into the town, which could set off problems as Turkey and the Iraqi Turkmen Front have both warned against those forces going into Tal Afar claiming they will set off a sectarian conflict. Baghdad has an agreement with Ankara negotiated by the Americans to keep the Hashd out.

In the south, an officer from the 9th Division commented on how poorly the liberated areas are being held. He said that the police units that moved in behind the army were such lackluster quality that they could only do guard duty. He went on to say that army reinforcements had to be called up from Baghdad to help with holding the territory.

The director of the International Red Cross just returned from a trip to Iraq and was worried about the length of the campaign. He told the press that Mosul could take months to clear. That could lead to a humanitarian disaster, and a stretching of resources. Already he said there are some days when more than 100 are wounded from the fighting. The hospitals in Irbil are already overflowing with these casualties. Winter weather with freezing temperatures and rain are also starting in Iraq flooding displaced camps. These problems will only get worse the longer the operation lasts.

Finally, Reuters talked with a man who was displaced from Bashiqa that was recently freed. He like many others would like to go home but the town and the surrounding area is strewn with IEDs and mine fields. A member of the Mines Advisory Group said that it found more then 350 IEDs in just one town outside Bashiqa. While a few thousand people have gone back to their homes since the Mosul operation started almost all of those have been in the Nimrod district or eastern Mosul. Otherwise the other areas appear to be unsafe due to unexploded ordinance. It might take months to clear all of these areas since such a large swath of territory has been liberated in Ninewa.


Bas News, "Mosul: Iraqi Forces Liberate Two Other Neighborhoods," 12/2/16

Buratha News, "Imam Brigade declared encirclement of Tal Afar west Nineveh," 12/2/16

Davison, John, “Iraqis desperate to return to homes rigged with bombs by Islamic State,” Reuters, 12/2/16

Iraq Oil Report, "Inside Mosul, Nov. 29, 2016," 11/29/16

Mostafa, Mohamed, "Zohour, Shoqaq Khadraa neighborhoods of Mosul recaptured: source," Iraqi News, 11/24/16

Nebehay, Stephanie, “Battle for Iraq’s Mosul could take months: ICRC,” Reuters, 12/2/16

Rasheed, Ahmed and Evans, Dominic, “Exclusive: Iraqi commanders examined strategy shift to avert Mosul war of attrition,” 12/2/16

Rohan, Brian, “Empowered Shiite Militias Poised to Dominate Key Iraq Town,” Associated Press, 12/2/16

Rudaw, "Heavy fighting under cloudy skies in Mosul," 12/2/16
- "Iraqi army edges closer to Tigris River in Mosul; retakes new neighborhood," 11/29/16

Friday, December 2, 2016

Mosul Campaign Day 46, Dec 1, 2016

December 1, 2016 was the first time that no advances were announced in the Mosul campaign. More news came out about the day before however. Sumer and Wahda were attacked by the Golden Division in east Mosul marking the 45th and 46th neighborhoods entered by the Iraqi forces since the very end of October when the city was first breached. Roughly half of the areas are secured, and the other half contested.

In November, there were a reported 1,577 deaths and 2,566 wounded in Ninewa. Since the government is suppressing its casualties the real figures are likely much higher. The head of the Irbil Health Department told Rudaw that three hospitals had been set aside to tend to the injured. He said that they are overflowing with one facility having no empty beds left.

The International Organization for Migration recorded another rise in the displaced in Ninewa. In a week, from November 25 to December 1 the number of registered individuals went from 72,990 to 77,046, an increase of 4,056 people. Another 8,460 had gone back to their homes, mostly to the Nimrod district. There hasn’t been the massive displacement that many aid agencies feared would happen, but the figures continue to climb.

The majority of the displaced are living in camps and their situation just got worse. Rain and cold weather are hitting the country. In Khazir camp, Agence France Presse found tents being flooded and muddy conditions along with freezing temperatures. Aid agencies rushed in 6,000 heaters to the camp to deal with the cold. If the poor weather continues the camps will deteriorate.

Al Jazeera visited the historic site at Nimrod. The Islamic State made a documentary recording its destruction of the place, which was home to the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II. The Deputy Minister of Culture Qais Rasheed said that militants destroyed 70% of the town’s sites. The priority was now on trying to preserve what was left and that was easier said then done.


Agence France Presse, “Heavy rain piles misery on Mosul displaced,” 12/1/16

Beck, John, “How ISIL destroyed Nimrud,” Al Jazeera, 12/1/16

International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Factsheet 5# - Mosul Operations From 17 October To 1 December,” 12/1/16

NINA, "Anti-Terrorism Forces Storm 3 Residential Neighborhoods In Mosul, kill 16 Terrorists," 11/30/16

Rudaw, “Erbil hospitals overcrowded and struggling to cope with Mosul wounded,” 12/1/16

4,360 Dead, 3,920 Wounded In Iraq November 2016

November 2016 saw the highest casualties in Iraq recorded by Musings On Iraq since June 2014 when the Islamic State swept through northern and central Iraq.

There were a total of 8,280 casualties during the month. 4,360 were killed, consisting of 1 Hashd al-Watani, 4 Peshmerga, 14 Sahwa, 54 Hashd, 121 Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and 1,794 ISF, Sahwa, Hashd, Peshmerga reported by the United Nations. Another 3,920 were wounded made up of 2 Hashd al-Watani, 4 Sahwa, 5 Peshmerga, 68 Hashd, 458 ISF, and 3,383 civilians. Back in June 2014 there were 8,798 casualties with 5,100 dead and 3,698 injured.

In comparison, the United Nations had 3,229 dead and 1,509 wounded, and Iraq Body Count had 1,586 civilian fatalities.

The main driver of casualties during November was the Mosul campaign. There were 1,577 people who died in Ninewa made up of 1 Hashd al-Watani, 1 Peshmerga, 42 Hashd, 59 ISF, and 1,474 civilians. Another 2,566 were wounded consisting of 2 Hashd al-Watani, 55 Hashd, 372 ISF, and 2,137 civilians. Most of the 1,794 ISF, Sahwa, Hashd and Peshmerga that the U.N. had were probably in that province as well. The Islamic State executed a total of 942 people. Several mass graves have been discovered, and IS has been killing people in Mosul to try to maintain control of the population. Another 74 civilians died and 79 were injured by Coalition air strikes. IS mortar fire has also taken a heavy toll on civilians within Mosul, while many of the casualties amongst the Iraqi forces have come from suicide and car bombs. The press had 4 car bombs, 10 suicide bombers, and 10 suicide car bombs hitting the Iraqi forces, but the real number is likely higher. Another 6 motorcycle bombs, 39 suicide car bombs, 61 suicide bombers, and 209 car bombs were killed and destroyed.

After Ninewa, Baghdad had the most casualties. There were 239 incidents reported there leading to 288 dead and 881 wounded. Since the Mosul offensive began the press has been reporting less and less on the capital. That means there were probably far more attacks and casualties then were in the media in November. There were 7 car bombs, the most since 13 in May. Another two were dismantled before they exploded. The real killer however was the 143 IEDs. The south, 77 incidents, was the most violent section of the governorate, followed by 56 in the north, 48 in the west, 35 in the east, 10 in the center, and 2 in unknown locations.

Anbar had a high number of dead and wounded. 22 incidents led to 313 fatalities and 98 injured. Most of those killed came from the Anbar Health Directorate, and no details were provided on where or how they were caused. During the month, IS was able to set off two car bombs in Fallujah, the first since it was liberated. It also hit a wedding in Amiriya Fallujah with a suicide car bomb that killed 25 and wounded 45.

Babil had 7 incidents, 82 killed, and 60 wounded. A suicide truck bomb caused almost all of those casualties hitting mostly Iranian pilgrims in the town of Shomali leaving 80 dead and 58 injured.

Diyala continued to see low-level violence with an occasional mass casualty bombing. In November a suicide car bomb hit a checkpoint in Khalis killing 10 and wounding another 25. Otherwise there were 2 mortar incidents, 7 shootings, and 18 IEDs leading to a total of 33 dead and 44 injured.

Karbala had two rare security incidents. First, six suicide bombers were stopped at a checkpoint in Ain al-Tamer. Five were killed, but the fifth set off his device taking 8 lives and injuring 5. Two days later two more suicide bombers were killed in the western section of the province. All of these attackers came from Anbar.

IS picked up its operations in Salahaddin. The militants started off the month hitting pilgrims in Tikrit and Samarra with suicide bombs hidden in ambulances that left 27 killed and 141 wounded, most of which were Iranians. Two mass graves with 40 bodies of victims of the insurgents were discovered in Shirqat. Then finally, at the end of the month five suicide bombers hit a checkpoint in Samarra leaving 12 dead and 8 injured. In total, there were 27 incidents, 191 killed, and 201 wounded.

In Kirkuk people fleeing the IS controlled district of Hawija and others executed there accounted for almost all of the casualties. There were a total of 43 incidents, 72 dead, and 63 wounded. Of those, 16 people died and 39 were wounded mostly by IEDs trying to get out of Hawija. IS also killed a further 21.

Kurdistan had three incidents. In Irbil, an Imam connected to the Kurdistan Islamic Union was shot and killed by gunmen in front of his house. In Halabja, a Peshmerga was shot and wounded. Finally, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) office in Chamchamal, Sulaymaniya was shot up.

Violence In Iraq 2016
Jul 1-7
Jul 8-14
Jul 15-21
Jul 22-28
Jul 29-31
Aug 1-7
Aug 8-14
Aug 15-21
Aug 22-28
Aug 29-31
Sep 1-7
Sep 8-14
Sep 15-21
Sep 22-28
Sep 29-30
Oct 1-7
Oct 8-14
Oct 15-21
Oct 22-28
Oct 29-31
Nov 1-7
Nov 8-14
Nov 15-21
Nov 22-28
Nov 29-30

Security By Province Nov 2016
22 Incidents
313 Killed: 1 Sahwa, 3 Hashd, 18 ISF, 291 Civilians
98 Wounded: 18 ISF, 80 Civilians
5 Shootings
8 IEDs
2 Suicide Car Bombs
3 Car Bombs
9 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
7 Car Bombs Destroyed/Dismantled
7 Incidents
82 Killed: 82 Civilians
60 Wounded: 60 Civilians
1 Shooting
4 IEDs
1 Sticky Bomb
1 Suicide Car Bomb
239 Incidents
288 Killed: 5 Sahwa, 6 Hashd, 16 ISF, 261 Civilians
881 Wounded: 4 Sahwa, 7 Hashd, 51 ISF, 819 Civilians
49 Shootings
143 IEDs
16 Sticky Bombs
1 Motorcycle Bomb
7 Car Bombs
1 Grenade
2 Mortars
1 Suicide Car Bomb Dismantled
1 Car Bomb Dismantled
3 Incidents
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Wounded: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
29 Incidents
33 Killed: 1 Sahwa, 2 Hashd, 3 ISF, 27 Civilians
44 Wounded: 4 Hashd, 5 ISF, 35 Civilians
7 Shootings
18 IEDs
1 Suicide Car Bomb
2 Mortars
1 Incident
1 Wounded: 1 Peshmerga
1 Shooting
1 Incident
1 Killed: 1 Civilian
1 Shooting
2 Incidents
8 Killed: 8 Civilians
5 Wounded: 5 Civilians
1 Suicide Bomber
7 Suicide Bombers Killed
43 Incidents
72 Killed: 3 Peshmerga, 69 Civilians
63 Wounded: 4 Peshmerga, 59 Civilians
13 Shootings
13 IEDs
1 Stun Grenade
2 Suicide Bombers Killed/Arrested
219 Incidents
1,577 Killed: 1 Peshmerga, 1 Hashd al-Watani, 42 Hashd, 59 ISF, 1,474 Civilians
2,566 Wounded: 2 Hashd al-Watani, 55 Hashd, 372 ISF, 2,137 Civilians
41 Shootings
13 IEDs
10 Suicide Bombers
10 Suicide Car Bombs
4 Car Bombs
1 Grenade
30 Mortars
4 Rockets
2 Artillery
6 Motorcycle Bombs Destroyed
61 Suicide Bombers Killed
39 Suicide Car Bombs Destroyed
209 Car Bombs Destroyed
27 Incidents
191 Killed: 1 Hashd, 7 Sahwa, 25 ISF, 158 Civilians
201 Wounded: 2 Hashd, 12 ISF, 187 Civilians
13 Shootings
4 IEDs
5 Suicide Bombers
2 Suicide Car Bombs
2 Mortars
1 Rockets
1 Motorcycle Bomb Destroyed
5 Suicide Bombers Killed
5 Car Bombs Dismantled
1 Incident
1 Shooting