The Hashd captured Baaj (center in white) in west Mosul where many IS elements were believed to have fled when Mosul was attacked. Yellow to the north is Peshmerga held section of Sinjar district. Green is Hashd held. Red is Syria. (Al Forat News)
There was fighting across the front in Mosul. The Federal Police gave conflicting numbers again about its progress in Zinjali. One report said they held 65%. Federal Police commander General Raed Shakir Jawadat had it at 60%. Yesterday they claimed it was at 75-85%. The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were still attempting to capture the medical center in Shifa. It was taken a few days ago, but the Islamic State forced the Iraqi forces out. The insurgents also launched a large assault upon the Bab al-Bob, Bab al-Jadid and Bab Lakash entrances to the Old City in the early morning, but were turned back. The ISF has to make announcements of success every day. It is part of the government’s propaganda campaign. The problem is that it’s not a coordinated effort and there is plenty of exaggeration and sometimes make believe going on. That’s the reason why there are always conflicting statements and claims about advances.
Yesterday a Kurdish satellite TV channel filmed what looked like a white phosphorus attack either by the Iraqis or U.S. led Coalition. The Joint Operations Command denied that it was phosphorus saying it was smoke used by the Coalition. At the same time, the command banned all live broadcasts of the Mosul battle in reaction, and threatened legal action against anyone breaking the new rule. As the Mosul campaign is coming to a conclusion the ISF has become more and more sensitive about any negative stories. It continuously complains about television stations, the media in general, and social networks for spreading fake news and promoting stories spread by the Islamic State. Unfortunately, in doing so it has denied real events such as the Jadida bombing, which it refused to acknowledge was the result of a Coalition air strike and put out two disinformation stories to the media. Again, the victory narrative promoted by the government is the root cause of these attacks upon the press.
The Hashd achieved their final objectives in their west Ninewa campaign. They took the town of Baaj near the Syrian border, along with eight other towns. There were also clashes in the Hatra desert. Baaj was believed to have been a fall back positions for many IS elements escaping Mosul and a base in the west. The village was taken relatively quickly along with most of west Ninewa. The insurgents have not defended these areas because they are in open terrain exposing them to air strikes. Many of the militants have likely moved on to other parts of Iraq or Syria.
The deputy Hashd commander made the latest comments about the Hashd moving into Syria. Abu Muhandis stated that the Hashd would go after terrorists outside of Iraq if they threatened security. He also said that the Hashd would help the police and army monitor the Iraq-Syrian border. Several Hashd leaders have expressed their desire to move into Syria. Many of those same units already have men fighting for the Assad government organized by Iran. They see the wars in both countries as a single conflict, and are supporting Tehran’s policies. Part of that includes creating a land route from Iran across Iraq to Syria to move men and material.
Human Rights Watch released a new report on the Kurdish authorities detaining men and boys in displaced camps. They talked with relatives from four families who had loved ones detained in the Khazir and Nargizlia camps from January to April 2017. They all went through screening before arriving in Kurdistan, and some went through checks by the Kurds as well. Since they have been taken away the families have not been able to communicate with them and have no information about their fate. This is typical of all Iraqi forces. There are over 300,000 displaced in Ninewa since October 2016 posing a daunting challenge to track down any Islamic State members or sympathizers. Transparency is not a strong suit of either the central or regional government’s security forces. People are lost in the system all the time for regular crimes let alone on suspicion of terrorism charges.
AIN, “The popular crowd freed the village of Um Hajar east of Al-Baaj,” 6/4/17
- “The popular crowd is liberated three villages in the Ba’aj district,” 6/4/17
- “URGENT Popular crowd frees four villages while progression to al-Ba’aj today,” 6/4/17
Associated Press, “Iraq paramilitary troops take strategic town west of Mosul,” 6/4/17
Baghdad Post, “Fierce fighting bet. Iran-backed IMIS, ISIS southwestern Mosul,” 6/4/17
Chmaytelli, Maher, “Iraqi Shi’ite paramilitaries take Baaj town west of Mosul from Islamic State: army,” Reuters, 6/4/17
Hathaloum, “Joint operations deny the use of phosphorus in Mosul and confirm the use of smoke,” 6/4/17
Human Rights Watch, “Kurdistan Region of Iraq: New Detentions of Fleeing Men, Boys,” 6/3/17
Ibn News, “Al-Asadi: Daash Lots Its Last Stronghold In Western Nineveh,” 6/4/17
Al Jazeera, “Iraq’s pro-government forces retake Al-Baaj from ISIL,” 6/4/17
Mostafa, Mohamed, “Mobilization deputy chief says can still go after IS beyond Iraqi borders,” Iraqi News, 6/4/17
New Sabah, “The Joint Forces kill 120 Daash during the clearing of Saha 1 neighborhood in Mosul,” 6/4/17
Rahal, Layal Abou, “Jihadists occupy civilian homes as Mosul battle rages,” Agence France Presse, 6/4/17
Rudaw, “Shiite forces declared Baaj is free from ISIS,” 6/4/17
Shafaaq News, “Joint operations prevent the direct broadcasts of Mosul battles after expelling Kurdish channel,” 6/4/17
- "URGENT: Federal Police attacked on Mosul front with more than 100 armed men," 6/4/17
- “URGENT: Iraqi forces penetrate more of the Zinjali and Daash target more fugitives,” 6/4/17
Al Taghier TV, “Federal Police forces regain control of 60 percent of Zinjili district,” 6/4/17
World Bulletin, "ISIL attacks kill 32 Iraqi soldiers in Mosul," 6/4/1y
Xinhua, “Iraqi forces free town from IS in west of Mosul,” 6/4/17