News out of Mosul was limited again because of the media blackout enforced by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Yesterday, General Haidar Ali al-Shemari from the Golden Division told the press that around 250 families were still trapped in the Old City, afraid to flee because of Islamic State gunfire. Soon after that story was published the Joint Operations Command (JOC) denied it. The JOC was supposed to be in control of all press statements, but has never been able to enforce that rule. The general’s statement contradicted the government’s narrative that Mosul is freed, and only mopping up operations are going on, which as the reason why the JOC claimed it was fake news.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Friday, July 21, 2017
July 20, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) admitted that fighting continued in the Old City of West Mosul. First, U.S. led Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon told Rudaw that there were no reported clashes going on inside Mosul anymore. However, according General Haidar Ali al-Shemari of the Golden Division there were occasional gunfights occurring in the Old City. Those were happening in Qalahat and Shahwan along the Tigris River. Yesterday, a suicide bomber hit a police unit in the former killing three and wounding two. Two more bombers were killed in Yarmouk, which is in the western side of west Mosul showing that there are cells or infiltration going on across the city. Reportedly roughly 1,000 people are still trapped in the district, and can’t escape due to insurgent gunfire. The ISF has banned media from west Mosul so coverage of the on-going combat is getting more and more sporadic. General Shemari’s comments contradict the regular line heard by the government that only mopping up operations are taking place in the city.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
The Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have banned almost all reporters from west Mosul, so there was only one story from the city. A crew from France 24 travelled with a Golden Division unit to the Tanak neighborhood on the western edge of Mosul to look for Islamic State elements. An officer went house to house interviewing families for tips on insurgents. Two young boys were taken in as a result. In most of the city these are the type of clearing operations that the ISF is doing. That’s also the reason why the Golden Division allowed this story, because it goes along with the narrative that Mosul is now safe and secure. It’s unknown whether there is still fighting going on in the Old City district because of the media blackout.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
No fighting was reported in the Old City district of West Mosul, just mopping up operations. A Golden Division unit chased down some Islamic State fighters along the Tigris River killing ten of them, and arresting five others. A member of the Mosul district council estimated that there were 100-200 IS elements left in the city concentrated in the Shahwan, Qalahat, Maidan and Khazraj neighborhoods of the Old City. There are continued fears of insurgents that escaped the city with the displaced. The Iraqi press has been almost completely silent on the on going combat in the Old City. It only covers the government releases, which just focus upon clearing operations. Admitting that there were still serious clashes going on would undermine the government’s victory narrative, and the declaration that the city was liberated eight days ago.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Iraqi forces (ISF) in part are still trying to deny that serious fighting is going on in the Old City in West Mosul. The chief of the Rapid Reaction Division for example, General Thamir al-Husseini told the press that his units were just clearing the district, and there was no fighting going on. Ninewa Operations Command head General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah on the other hand, let it be known that the Islamic State carried out surprise attacks in Shahwan and Qalahat. The fighters came out of basements and tunnels they were hiding in. Those are two neighborhoods along the Tigris River where combat continues. In the rest of Mosul, the ISF are just mopping up, arresting IS elements, and occasionally killing some attempting to escape. In Shahwan and Qahalat however serious combat is still going on.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Heavy clashes continued in the Old City of west Mosul, but with little to no coverage within Iraq. The Golden Division’s General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi repeated the government’s story that the Iraqi forces (ISF) were simply hunting down sleeper cells in the district. The Iraq News Center however reported heavy fighting was going on in Qalahat and Shahwan, which are two neighborhoods along the Tigris River. The Islamic State fighters are hiding in basements and tunnels in the Old City. In one of those twenty IS women were captured with different nationalities. Five of them were suicide bombers. The continued combat in the city is barely being mentioned in the Iraqi media. Instead most of Iraq is just hearing of arrests and occasional shootings of insurgents trying to escape. That’s due to two issues. First, the ISF has barred reporters from west Mosul. Second, almost all Iraqi media outlets just repeat government statements and do not do original reporting.
Sunday, July 16, 2017
Video of continued fighting in Old City. Gunshots, tank fire, helicopters overhead shooting at Old City district West Mosul from across Tigris River. (Nabih Bulos)
Heavy fighting continued in the Old City district of west Mosul five days after the city was declared liberated. The Iraqi forces (ISF) have banned reporters in the area, and not released much about what is going on so the Iraqi press has been largely silent on the continuation of combat. Reinforcements were sent in with three units from the Rapid Reaction forces joining the Golden Division to clear out the last Islamic State elements who were said to be hiding in tunnels in the district. Nabih Bulos from the Los Angeles Times went to the eastern side of the Tigris River across from the Old City and filmed an Abrams tank and helicopters firing into the district. Constant gunfire could be heard as well. The ISF claims they are just mopping up the last remnants of the insurgents, but the amount of firepower deployed would point to things being more serious. Five times the ISF told Prime Minister Haidar Abadi that the city was freed when it wasn’t. Abadi showed up in the city to give his victory speech when he was informed that the city was not cleared yet. He waited a day, and then gave his address, but things were not settled yet. Fighting will likely continue for several more days with most of the country none to the wise.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
Heavy fighting returned to the Old City district of west Mosul. A source from the Iraqi forces (ISF) told the media that there were intense clashes going on with pockets of Islamic State in the district. Iraqi helicopters were again seen flying overhead and explosions were heard. IS also fired mortars into an eastern neighborhood. July 13 things appeared to have calmed down and the security forces were finally just mopping up. It seems that these confrontations will flare up off and on for the next few days in the Old City as the ISF hunt down the last IS elements.
Friday, July 14, 2017
The third day after Mosul was declared liberated major fighting was finally coming to an end. There were some scattered clashes going on in the Old City, which wounded 2 soldiers, but didn’t seem as serious as previous days. Otherwise, the Iraqi forces (ISF) freed a Yazidi family that had been held hostage by the Islamic State in the Old City’s Maidan neighborhood. Four IS members were killed trying to escape across the Tigris River. On the other hand, IS cells were still operating in other parts of the city. A suicide bomber was shot in a market in the west. Five suicide bombers infiltrated into Tanak in the western edge of west Mosul when they got caught by security. They hold up in a house where one set off his device, while the others died. Four ISF lost their lives during the confrontation. Finally, mortars were fired at a power station in the east killing three and injuring two. In the previous two days there were air and helicopter strikes, mortar fire, etc. By July 13 things finally seemed to turn towards mopping up operations. Cleaning up the sleeper cells however will likely take quite some time as they are still operating in the east, which was freed six months ago.
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