Civilians fleeing fighting in WMosul (New York Times)
Progress in west Mosul has been very slow as many predicted. The Federal Police claimed they held 75% of Zinjali. On June 3 they said they had up to 85% of the neighborhood. These types of figures are always changing depending upon the source, and are also driven by the government’s desire to always have positive news come out about the battle. Yesterday, the Federal Police and Rapid Reaction Division attacked the Old City district from the north to try to make a breakthrough. The district has held up the police for four months now. Originally, Iraqi commanders said they could take all of Mosul in just a few days, again the result of Iraqi propaganda demands. A Ninewa councilman predicted that the fight would take weeks, and hoped that by the end of June the city would be liberated. Several Iraqi officers and the U.S. spokesman warned that this last push would be difficult, and it is proving so.
Out west the Hashd captured 17 more villages around Baaj. Kurdish President Massoud Barzani had more harsh words for their presence in west Ninewa. He said that their presence in Kurdish territory was unacceptable, and violated an agreement with Baghdad about the conduct of the Mosul campaign. Barzani sees the Hashd’s presence as a threat to his party’s control of Sinjar district, which has been difficult since his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) abandoned it in the face of the Islamic State in 2014 opening the local Yazidis to massacres by the insurgents. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) moved in from Syria to free many Yazidi areas and have stayed since. Now the Hashd are coming and doing the same. If the KDP had swept through all the Yazidi towns this would not have happened.
Agence France Presse (AFP) talked with families who had their sons arrested by Kurdish security while staying in displaced camps. One woman had her two sons picked up by the Asayesh for accusations that they were IS members. Another man said his son was arrested as well. Weeks later they got letters from the Red Cross telling them where their children were. This comes after Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on the same topic. Kurdish authorities rejected both HRW and AFP’s accounts claiming that all detainees receive a lawyer, information is given about their whereabouts to their families who can also visit them. In reality, there is no due process in Kurdistan or in the rest of Iraq. People are routinely picked up and held incommunicado for long periods of times. They usually don’t get access to a lawyer until they go to trial. The security forces and justice system is even more overwhelmed now than before due to the war with the Islamic State so the time it takes for someone to be processed and released is likely much longer now than before.
Activists in Ninewa want justice for IS members and are threatening to go outside the courts if nothing is done about them. People in Hamam al-Alil, the main screening center for people coming out of Mosul, and displaced camps complained that IS members were in their midst and wanted something done about not only them, but their families as well. People said that if the security forces and courts didn’t do something about it they would take matters into their own hands. Again, the justice system in Iraq is currently over stretched. The number of cases it has to go through due to the Ninewa battle is enormous. Even if someone is released or found innocent there are likely others that feel that the suspect is guilty and wants that person to pay. The threat of tribal justice or vigilantism is real in the province, and is probably already happening in some areas. The fact that Baghdad has no reconciliation plan for the province and the rest of Iraq only means these disputes will continue to fester.
On June 4, the International Organization for Migration counted 383,808 displaced since the Mosul campaign started in October 2016. An average of 2,000-7,000 have left Mosul each day since the new operation started at the end of May. As of May 30, 177,483 displaced have also returned to the city. 42,246 went to the western section, and 135,237 to the east. Many people have gone back to be close to their homes, because they did not like living in the displaced camps or because there was no room there. Inside Mosul services are still a problem such as clean water. Much of the city’s water is being trucked in, and there is no money to repair the water treatment plants. Rebuilding will be very slow as there is still fighting going on and the government lacks the funds to do much more than fix and provide the very basics for the citizenry.
Ali, Nasr, “Shiite Hashd sweeps PKK group from Shingal region,” Rudaw, 6/6/17
International Organization for Migration, “Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Tracking Mosul Operations Data Snapshot: 6 June 2017,” 6/6/17
Al Jazeera, “UN: ISIL kills 163 people in Mosul in one day,” 6/6/17
Al Maalomah, “Nineveh Council: the full liberation of West Mosul needs a month,” 6/6/17
Al Mada, “The popular crow continues to advance to secure the remaining border,” 6/6/17
New Sabah, “A popular movement to expel the evil doers and their families from areas in Nineveh,” 6/6/17
Prickett, Ivor, “Live From Mosul: A Photographer’s Perspective,” New York Times, 6/6/17
Rahal, Layal Abou, “After fleeing Mosul, displaced face arrest over alleged IS ties,” Agence France Presse, 6/6/17
Rudaw, “Barzani warns against encroachment of unofficial forces on Kurdish territories,” 6/6/17
Sobir, Shoguna, “IS Militants Control 4 Square Kilometers of Mosul: Commander,” Bas News, 6/6/17
Al Sumaria, “Federal Police announced the death of man in charge of manufacturing car bombs in Old City Mosul,” 6/6/17
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “Iraq: Mosul Humanitarian Response Situation Report No. 36 (29 May to 4 June 2017,” 6/4/17
Xinhua, “Iraqi forces recapture 17 villages from IS near Syrian border,” 6/6/17
-Iraqi forces free 9 villages from IS near Syrian border,” 6/6/17