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The Battle of Mosul (Arabic: معركة الموصل‎; Template:Lang-ckb) is a joint offensive by Iraqi government forces with allied militias, Iraqi Kurdistan, and international forces to retake the city of Mosul from ISIL.[1][2][3] The offensive, dubbed Operation "We Are Coming, Nineveh" (قادمون يا نينوى; Qadimun Ya Naynawa),[4][5] began on 16 October 2016 with forces besieging ISIL-controlled areas in the Nineveh Governorate surrounding Mosul.[6][7][8] The battle for Mosul is considered key in the military intervention against ISIL, which seized the city in June 2014.[9] It is the largest deployment of Iraqi forces since the 2003 invasion by U.S. and coalition forces.[10]

The operation follows the Mosul offensive in 2015 and Mosul offensive in 2016. Up to 1.5 million civilians live in the city; there are fears of a humanitarian crisis and that civilians could be used as human shields by ISIL.[11]

The offensive began with Iraqi troops and Peshmerga fighters engaging ISIL on three fronts outside Mosul, going village to village in the surrounding area. More than 120 towns and villages were liberated from ISIL control in the first two weeks of fighting. At dawn on 1 November, Iraqi Special Operations Forces entered the city on the eastern front.[12]

Background[]

Main articles: Fall of Mosul, Mosul offensive (2015), and Mosul offensive (2016)
File:2016.08 Mosul area.svg

Map of the Kurdish-launched Mosul offensive, as of August 2016

Mosul is Iraq's second-most populated city and fell to a mere 800 ISIL militants in June 2014 because of the largely Sunni population's deep distrust of the primarily Shia Iraqi government and its corrupt armed forces.[13][14] It was in the Great Mosque in Mosul that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the birth of the caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria.[14] The original population of 2.5 million has fallen to approximately 1.5 million after two years of ISIL rule. The city was once extremely diverse, with ethnic minorities including Armenians, Yazidis, Assyrian, Turkmen, and Shabak people, who suffered considerably under ISIL.[15] Mosul remains the last stronghold of ISIL in Iraq,[16] and the anticipated offensive to reclaim it has been hyped as the "mother of all battles."[17][18][19][20] Iraqi officials say that the loss of the city would mark the effective defeat of ISIL in the country.[21]

In the weeks leading up to the ground offensive, a U.S.-led coalition bombed ISIL targets, and the Iraqi army made gradual advances on the city.[10] Royal Air Force Reaper drones, Typhoons and Tornados targeted "rocket launchers, ammunition stockpiles, artillery pieces and mortar positions" in the 72 hours before the ground assault began.[22] Leaflets dropped on the city by the Iraqi army advised young male residents to "rise up" against ISIL when the battle began.[16] To prepare defenses against the assault, ISIL jihadists dug 7-by-7-foot trenches around the city, which they plan to fill with burning oil to reduce visibility[10] and slow advances.[23]

Forces[]

File:Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend Qayyarah September 2016.jpg

U.S. Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, at Qayyarah Airfield West, 22 September 2016

An estimated 3,000–5,000 ISIL fighters are in Mosul, according to the United States Department of Defense.[24] Other estimates range as low as 2,000 and high as 9,000 ISIL fighters.[13] Mosul Eye estimates approximately 8,000–9,000 fighters loyal to ISIL, with "[h]alf of them... highly trained, and the rest... either teen-agers or not well trained. About ten per cent of the fighters are foreign (Arabs and non-Arabs). The rest are Iraqis. Most are from Nineveh’s townships and districts."[25]

The Iraqi-led coalition was initially estimated by CNN to have 94,000 members,[26] but this number was later upwardly revised to 108,500;[27] 54,000 to 60,000 Iraqi security forces (ISF) soldiers, 16,000 paramilitary fighters and 40,000 Peshmerga are deployed in the battle.[28][23] The Christian Nineveh Plain Forces, composed of Assyrians and Chaldean Catholics, are among the paramilitary forces in the Iraqi coalition.[29] Iranian-backed Shia militias, including several brigades of the paramilitary organization Hashd al-Shaabi, are also assisting. The Peace Brigades, the League of the Righteous, and the Badr Organization are taking part.[30]

File:Peshmerga soldiers prepare to conduct a combined arms live-fire exercise near Erbil, Iraq.jpg

Peshmerga soldiers prepare to conduct a combined arms live-fire exercise with an Italian instructor near Erbil, on 12 October 2016.

An international coalition of 60 nations, led by the United States, is supporting Iraq's war against ISIL, providing logistical and air support, intelligence and advice.[31] The international coalition forces are headquartered 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of Mosul at Qayyarah Airfield West (or Q-West) in Qayyarah, which was reclaimed from ISIL in June.[32] About 560 U.S. troops from the 101st Airborne Division were deployed to Q-West for the battle, including command and control elements, a security detachment, an airfield operations team, and logistics and communications specialists.[33] The U.S. deployed HIMARS rocket launchers and M777 howitzers, manned by the 101st's 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the Golf Company, 526th Brigade Support Battalion. The French army deployed four CAESAR howitzers and 150 to 200 soldiers at Qayyarah, with 600 more French troops announced at the end of September.[34] An additional 150 French soldiers are in Erbil, east of Mosul, training Peshmerga.[30] The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, with a squadron of 24 Rafale M jets, was deployed from Toulon to the Syrian coast to support the operation against ISIL through airstrikes and reconnaissance missions; 12 other Rafale jets are operating out of French Air Force bases in Jordan and the UAE.[35][36] 80 Australian special forces soldiers and 210 CANSOFCOM soldiers are also deployed to assist the Peshmerga. In addition, the Canadian Forces 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment is reportedly in the area, working to intercept and relay ISIL communications, while a Role 2 Canadian Army field hospital with 60 personnel has been set up to treat Kurdish casualties.[37][38]

The Ba'ath loyalists group, known to be led by Saddam Hussein's former vice president Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, issued a statement before the start of operations calling for the people of the city to make an uprising against ISIL and announced that they will fight the "terrorist organization."[39][40]

The presence of several militias with histories of human rights abuses has been criticized; Human Rights Watch called for Shia militias from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to not enter Mosul, following allegations of severe abuse of Sunni Muslims in anti-ISIL operations in Fallujah, Tikrit and Amirli.[41][42][43]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that only the Iraqi army and the Iraqi national police will enter the city itself.[8][44]

Turkish involvement[]

The involvement of Turkey in the operation has considerably strained relations between Ankara and Baghdad.[45] Turkey has 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers in Iraq,[46] including 500 Turkish soldiers deployed to a base near Bashiqa, where they trained 1,500 Iraqi Sunni volunteers, mainly Turkmens, and Arabs to reclaim Mosul.[47][48] Turkey's participation is against the wishes of the Iraqi government, which has said the Turks are violating Iraq's sovereignty. Turkey has refused to withdraw its forces.[45] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on 1 October, "We will play a role in the Mosul liberation operation and no one can prevent us from participating,"[49] and said their presence was to ensure that Mosul did not fall to Kurdish or Shia control and become a threat to Turkey.[50] Turkey's presence was criticized by Kurds in northern Iraq,[51] and thousands of protestors demonstrated at the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad on 18 October, demanding Turkish forces withdraw from Iraq.[52]

The United States has reportedly attempted to persuade Iraq to cooperate with Turkey on the Mosul offensive.[53] U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Turkey on 21 October, where an agreement was proposed allowing limited Turkish participation, pending Iraqi approval. Carter discussed Turkey's involvement in detail with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad on 22 October and with Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, in Erbil the following day.[54] Al-Abadi declined the offer of Turkish assistance, saying, "I know that the Turks want to participate. We tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul and the rest of the territories."[55] However, on 23 October, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced Turkish troops had fired on ISIL positions near Mosul after requests for assistance from the Peshmerga.[45] With assistance from American, British and Turkish forces, the Peshmerga encircled Bashiqa.[56]

On 1 November, the day Iraqi forces entered Mosul, Turkey announced it was sending tanks and artillery from Ankara to Silopi near the Iraqi border. Turkey's Minister of Defense Fikri Işık said the deployment was a defensive move to prepare for "important developments in the region."[57] Prime Minister Al-Abadi warned Turkey not to "invade" Iraq, predicting war if they did. Al-Abadi, addressing journalists in Baghdad, said, "We warn Turkey if they want to enter Iraq, they will end up becoming fragmented... We do not want to fight Turkey. We do not want a confrontation with Turkey. God forbid, even if we engage in war with them, the Turks will pay a heavy price. They will be damaged. Yes, we too will be damaged, but whenever a country fights a neighboring country, there will be no winner, both will end up losing."[58]

Battle timeline[]

Template:Split section

16–17 October[]

File:M109A6 Paladin at Qayyarah October 2016.jpg

A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah Airfield West, in support of the Iraqi security forces' push toward Mosul, 17 October 2016.

On 16 October, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the beginning of the assault to recapture the city of Mosul.[8] The operation was to be led by Maj Gen. Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri. Officials reported howitzers firing on ISIL targets late that day.[6]

The main assault began on 17 October at approximately 6 a.m., several hours after a televised address by al-Abadi on state television,[16] with shelling and arrival of armored vehicles to the front lines.[59]

BBC journalist Ahmed Maher, reporting from the front line, said the coalition strategy is to completely encircle Mosul before Iraqi troops advance into the city center.[60] The Peshmerga in the Khazir region east of Mosul started the ground assault by advancing on ISIL-held villages from three fronts, with Iraqi security forces advancing from the south.[61] Iraqi troops advanced on the Bartella area east of Mosul while ISIL fighters fired mortars at Peshmerga.[62] According to the Iraqi government, 20 villages near Mosul were captured from ISIL in the first 24 hours of fighting by the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.[63] On the southern front, Iraqi troops retook several villages near Qayyarah, including al-Sirt, Bajwaniya, al-Hud and al-Mashraf, and parts of the al-Hamdaniya District southeast of Mosul. Iraqi Federal Police also regained control of 56 oilfields in the Qayyarah district.[64] According to reports, the Peshmerga were met with little resistance on the eastern front, while Iraqi and Shia fighters coming from the south faced a tougher fight from ISIL.[65]

The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, said that Peshmerga and Iraqi fighters retook 200 square kilometers (80 square miles) from ISIL on the first day of fighting.[66] At least five Pershmerga fighters and one Iraqi Army soldier were killed on the first full day of fighting, according to Al Jazeera.[66] ISIL claimed it had set off 12 suicide bombs.[67]

Iraqi officials reported that "heavy losses of life and equipment" were inflicted upon ISIL fighters in the Hamdaniya district southeast of Mosul. CNN reported that scores of injured ISIL fighters had been bused west toward Raqqa (ISIL's headquarters in Syria) for medical aid.[28] Family members of ISIL fighters fled from Mosul to the village of Nawran due to the shelling. It was also reported that some fighters had started shaving their beards and were getting rid of their Afghan uniforms.[68] The group was also reported to have evacuated and shifted its headquarters from west side of Mosul to its east side.[69]

18 October[]

On 18 October, the Iraqi and Peshmerga advance had been slowed down due to suicide bombers, roadside IEDs and oil fires. In order to eliminate any ISIL presence completely from the villages on the outskirts of the city, they were carrying out street-by-street search operations.[70][71] The Peshmerga later paused their advance while the Iraqi Army continued its advance.[72]

File:Battle of Mosul - Iraqi security forces transport combat equipment 2.jpg

Iraqi security forces transport combat equipment including M1A1 Abrams tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to tactical assembly areas with assistance from the 313th Movement Control Battalion forward element, on 18 October 2016, near Makhmur, Iraq.

A U.S. Pentagon spokesman stated that the coalition was "ahead of schedule" on the second day of fighting after destroying 52 targets on the first day of the operation. Early in the day, news agencies reported that forces in the east were close to Qaraqosh (Bakhdida), once the largest Christian town in Iraq, and fighters in the south were closing in on Hammam al-'Alil.[73] As the news spread that the Iraqi Army had stormed Qaraqosh, widespread celebration broke out in Erbil among Iraqi Christians, many of whom had fled there after the ISIL takeover in 2014. Hundreds celebrated in the streets of the Erbil neighborhood of Ankawa with singing and dancing as the Iraqi army fought with ISIL fighters who remained holed up in Qaraqosh.[74][75][76]

Rudaw reported that Iraqi fighters to the south were battling pockets of ISIL fighters and snipers as they tried to reclaim the village of Abbasi,[77] and expected to soon take control of the village of Zawiya.[78] Fighting resumed in the village of Kani Harami, which was captured by the Iraqi army on 17 October but retaken by ISIL on 18 October as the army lacked reinforcements.[75] The Iraqi army retook the village of Al-Hud on the Tigris, where villagers had risen up against ISIL and killed as many as nine militants in a bloody street fight.[79][80] State police secured the Al-Mishraq sulfur plant, both south of Mosul.[81] The al-Shura district was stated by its mayor to have been captured by the Iraqi security forces.[82] During the day's fighting, three Iraqi Army tanks were taken out by ISIL.[83]

Assyrian-American journalist Steven Nabil reported that Mosul residents have sent hundreds of messages to coalition contacts informing them of the locations of ISIL fighters inside the city.[60] Joint airstrikes by Iraqi and coalition warplanes on ISIL headquarters in Mosul destroyed 13 targets and killed 35 militants.[84]

As the Iraqi Army advanced on Mosul, rebellion against ISIL broke out in the city. The group's Islamic Police revolted and attacked four headquarters of the organisation. The revolt was put down with seven rebellious leaders being killed and many militants being executed. A group of rebels attacked a headquarters of the group the next day, killed two militants and raised the Iraqi flag over the building. ISIL patrols in the city were also attacked.[85][86][87]

Jihadi groups researcher Abdul-Wahab Al-Tameemi reported that a group of Naqshabandi Army militants attacked an ISIL controlled checkpoint in the village of Al-Houd, injuring two ISIL militants before they were captured along with eight other Naqshabandi militants who attacked a group of ISIL militants in the same village and in coordinates with the Popular Mobilization Forces on the day before. In total, 30 Naqshabandi militants were captured and herded to Hamam al-Alil where they were strolled around the town by the terrorists' police cars.[88]

19 October[]

Coalition officials reported another 70 towns needed to be captured before they entered Mosul. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis stated that ISIL was using civilians as human shields and holding people against their will in Mosul.[89] The Iraqi army resumed fighting in Qaraqosh, surrounding the besieged town, where pockets of resistance remained in the form of snipers and car bombs.[90][91] Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Maliki, commander of the Iraqi 9th Armored Division, said three Iraqi brigades have captured 13 villages north and northeast of Al Quwayr, south of Mosul. The 9th Division was reported to be within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the outskirts of Mosul.[92]

Rudaw reported that ISIL had bombed two buildings belonging to the Nineveh provincial government inside the city of Mosul. The village of Kani Harami, 35 kilometres (22 mi) southeast of Mosul, was captured after intense fighting in the morning, sending ISIL militants retreating to Abbasiyah.[93]

Le Parisien reported 22 towns captured, with 12 by the Peshmerga and 10 by the ISF.[94] Nofal Hammadi, governor of the Nineveh Governorate of which Mosul is the provincial capital, said 40 percent of the province was captured.[95]

Al Jazeera reported that an offensive to retake the town of Bashiqa northeast of Mosul, originally scheduled for dawn, was delayed due to lack of logistical support.[96] Most of the town's population of 30,000 had fled to Kurdish territory after the ISIL takeover. Thousands of Peshmerga were reportedly preparing to retake Bashiqa.[97]

U.S. Army Major General Gary J. Volesky, commander of the land forces of the international coalition supporting the Iraqis, said ISIL leaders are abandoning Mosul, and predicted that foreign jihadists will form the majority of ISIL fighters left to fight for the city: "We've got indications that leaders have left. A lot of foreign fighters we expect will stay as they're not able to exfiltrate as easily as some of the local fighters or local leadership, so we expect there will be a fight."[98][99]

20 October[]

CNN reported that 20 October saw the most intense fighting yet of the offensive.[100] A large convoy of Iraqi Special Operations Forces, an elite group known as the Golden Division, arrived at positions liberated by the Peshmerga forces. The special forces are expected to be the first division to enter Mosul.[101] The special forces advanced on the Assyrian town of Bartella east of Mosul, supported by coalition airstrikes, and captured the town, despite ISIL fighters detonating nine truck bombs.[102] According to Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi of the Iraqi Army, 200 ISIL fighters were killed in the fight for Bartella.[100]

The Peshmerga announced a "large-scale operation" to the north and northeast of Mosul, and aimed to retake the Christian towns of Tesqopa and Bashiqa.[99][103] An ISIL ambush near Bashiqa left dozens of Peshmerga killed or wounded.[104] Rudaw reported that the Peshmerga liberated six villages: Khrap Delil, Pirhalan, Fadhliya, and Omar Qamchi on the Bashiqa front line, and the Shabak villages of Nawaran and Barima on the Nawaran front. The Peshmerga forces have entered the villages of Kani Shirin, Kavrk, Filfel and Hasan Jalal. The Peshmerga briefly captured the village of Tiz Khirab but were forced to withdraw.[105]

On the southern front, Iraqi forces resumed their push north after a one-day pause.[104] They liberated six villages east of Qayyarah: Khalidiya, Khabat, Salahya, Znawer, Makuk and Saidawa,[105] with the goal of clearing 84 villages between the Baghdad-Mosul Highway and the Tigris, south of the Mosul International Airport.[104]

A U.S. bomb disposal expert embedded with the Peshmerga was killed by an IED bomb north of Mosul. U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Finan, 34, died after the vehicle he was riding in drove over a roadside bomb.[106]

Reuters reported that ISIL set Al-Mishraq, a sulfur plant, ablaze, causing two deaths and nearly 1,000 hospitalizations from sulfur fume inhalation.[107]

ISIL is reported to be digging trenches to slow the advancement of coalition troops, possibly to buy time to reorganize themselves, capture civilians for later use as human shields, or to trap coalition vehicles in open areas where they are exposed to ISIL's suicide truck bombs.[108]

21 October[]

ISIL launched multiple attacks in Kirkuk to divert military resources. Witnesses reported multiple explosions and gun battles in the city, most centered on a government compound. A suicide bomber killed 13 workers, including four Iranians, at a power plant in Dibis. A senior Peshmerga commander said attackers posed as internally displaced persons.[109] Iraqi officials say 80 people were killed in Kirkuk, primarily Kurdish security forces, and about 170 injured; 56 ISIL militants were killed.[110]

Turkmen reporter Ahmet Haceroğlu of Türkmeneli TV died after being shot in the chest by an ISIL sniper during the attack on Kirkuk.[111] At least seven journalists have been injured covering the offensive.[112]

Iraqi government forces reported they had retaken two more villages south of Mosul – Nanaha and al-Awaizat – killing 15 ISIL fighters.[113]

An Iraqi intelligence source stated ISIL executed 284 men and boys abducted from Mosul for the purpose of using them as human shields. The civilians were shot and put in a mass grave. A United Nations official said the UN is "gravely worried" about the fate of 200 families from Samalia and 350 families from Najafia who were abducted Monday by ISIL, who could be used as human shields.[114]

22 October[]

Iraqi police reported that the ISIL attack on Kirkuk, which lasted into the night, was over and that all ISIL militants had been killed by Iraqi forces or had blown themselves up.[111]

CNN reported that a large-scale offensive began to retake the Christian town of Qaraqosh (also known as Hamdaniya or Bakhdida), which remains under ISIS control after several days of fighting. The bells of a church in the nearby Christian town of Bartella, captured on 20 October, were rung for the first time since the town was captured in 2014.[115] Iraqi troops also advanced on the town of Tel Keppe, north of Mosul.[116]

Two civilians died and hundreds of people were being treated for toxic gas inhalation after ISIL set fire to the Al-Mishraq sulphur plant on 20 October.[117] Shifting winds sent the gas to Qayyarah Airfield West, where U.S. and coalition forces were forced to use gas masks.[111]

Iraqi cameraman Ali Risan of Al Sumaria was shot in the chest by a sniper in the al-Shura area, the second journalist killed in the battle.[111]

The blogger Mosul Eye reported that ISIL has executed detainees, food prices have skyrocketed, and that teens aged 15–18 comprise the majority of ISIL fighters in the city. ISIL has planted bombs and booby traps throughout the city and is preparing for battle: "We feel that ISIL is intended to fight a huge battle in Mosul, and there are no signs of it backing up, withdrawing, or fear."[118] ISIL also confiscated SIM cards after Asia Cell reactivated its network across the city.[119]

23–24 October[]

The Peshmerga reported on 23 October that they had liberated the city of Bashiqa with the assistance of Turkish forces.[120][121] According to a statement from the Peshmerga General Command, the Peshmerga cordoned off the villages of Bir Halan, Faziliya, Omar Qapchi, Kanone, Bahzan, Khrab Dalil, Tis Khrab Bchuk, and Tis Khrab Gawram, and their forces to the northeast of Mosul were now within 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) of the city. "Peshmerga forces have also secured a significant stretch of the Bashiqa-Mosul highway to limit [ISIL's] freedom of movements and prevent its ability to send reinforcements," the statement read.[122]

Reuters reported on 24 October that ISIL increased its counterattacks as forces drew closer to Mosul, to distract forces from the front. In addition to the attack on Kirkuk on 21 October, ISIL fighters struck Rutba, a town that controls the highway from Baghdad to Jordan and Syria, and in Sinjar, populated by the Yazidi. Yazidi provincial chief Mahma Xelil said that at least 15 ISIL fighters were killed and two Peshmerga wounded in a two-hour battle in Sinjar. ISIL claimed its forces destroyed two peshmerga vehicles, killing all on board.[123]

CNN reported that the coalition has killed nearly 800 ISIS fighters and liberated 78 villages as of Monday.[124]

25 October[]

File:US and Iraqi leaders discuss battle plans at Q-West.jpg

U.S. Army and Iraqi military leaders discuss battle plans at Qayyarah Airfield West, 25 October

Troops from Iraq's Counter Terrorism Service, which are advancing on Mosul from the east of the city, were reported to be within 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) of the city and were pausing to wait for reinforcements before proceeding.[125]

Turkish tanks and artillery wiped out several ISIL targets in the Bashiqa region of Northern Iraq. Turkish military are also supporting Peshmerga forces in liberating the Bashiqa village. Turkey's uninvited involvement in the Mosul Offensive has increased tensions between Turkey and Iraq, with Iraq threatening military action against Turkish forces within Iraqi borders.[126][127]

Iraqi media outlet Al Sumaria News announced that IS executed nine of its members by burning for fleeing the battles in central Mosul, stating, “ISIS terrorist gangs executed nine of its members for fleeing the battle against the security forces in Mosul, by throwing them in trenches containing a burning oil, after tying their hands and legs.” It later added, “ISIS used the burning oil trenches to impede the visibility of the Iraqi Air Force and international coalition air force”.[128]

26 October[]

File:Rafale receives fuel from a KC-10.jpg

A French Dassault Rafale is refueled from a KC-10 Extender on October 26 near Iraq. The French Air Force has 24 Rafale M supporting the coalition forces.

Iraqi forces were met with fierce resistance from ISIS as they attempted to clear the militants from villages in Shora, 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of the city, Reuters reported. "As Iraqi forces move closer to Mosul, we see that Daesh resistance is getting stronger," said U.S. Army Maj. Chris Parker, a coalition spokesperson. Civilians on the southern front had reported that their relatives had been taken by retreating ISIS fighters to be used as human shields.[129] Hundreds of ISIL suicide bombers from Syria have reportedly been sent to defend Mosul. CNN reported that ISIL has been carrying out "retribution killings" of civilians as revenge for others welcoming Iraqi and Peshmerga troops in liberated villages.[130]

According to Ravina Shamdasani, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, IS has executed 232 people near Mosul for defying its orders and taken tens of thousands of people to use as human shields against advancing Iraqi forces. She claimed that ISIS "executed 42 civilians in Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul. Also on Wednesday ISIS executed 190 former Iraqi Security Forces for refusing to join them, in the Al Ghazlani base near Mosul."[131]

Forces evacuated more than 1,000 civilians from the front lines surrounding Mosul, moving them to the Khazir region.[132]

Peshmerga forces captured the village of Derk, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) northeast of Mosul, where they discovered the largest ISIL tunnel uncovered so far on the Bashiqa front. The tunnel reportedly contained a large cache of weapons.[133]

According to Lt. Gen Stephen Townsend, the commander of US forces in Iraq, coalition forces have now delivered more than 2,100 aerial bombs, artillery and mortar shells, rockets and missiles since the offensive to retake Mosul started back on 17 October. The Iraqi government informed US commanders that 57 Iraqi soldiers had been killed and about 250 wounded. Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are thought to have suffered about 20 to 30 fatalities.[134]

27 October[]

According to Captain Fahd al-Laithi of Iraq's National Information Agency, "Thirteen terrorists were killed in a coalition airstrike that targeted a Daesh concentration in the Hamam al-Alil district south of Mosul." Meanwhile, he added, Iraqi forces had managed to retake the village of Wadi al-Qasab in the Al-Shura district and the village of Al-Hamza in Hamam al-Alil, both of which lay to the south of the Daesh-held city.[135]

The head of the United States Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, told the AFP news agency, "Just in the operations over the last week and a half associated with Mosul, we estimate they've probably killed about 800-900 Islamic State fighters." Two generals said the jihadist group had suffered the losses as troops and allied fighters, backed by U.S.-led air strikes, continued their advances on several axes. Before the assault, up to 5,000 ISIL fighters were believed to be in Mosul.[134]

28 October[]

U.S. military officials estimate that there are 3,000 to 5,000 ISIL fighters defending the last major stronghold of the terror group in Iraq, and an additional 1,500 to 2,000 ISIS soldiers in a zone outside the city.[136]

Security forces had taken the town of Al-Shura, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Mosul and had evacuated 5,000 to 6,000 civilians from there, according to Abdulrahman al Wagga, a member of Nineveh provincial council. He said that the area was now being cleared of homemade bombs and booby traps, and that Iraqi Security Forces and federal police have also now "90% surrounded Hammam al-Alil," the largest town south of Mosul.[137]

Al Wagga said Iraqi security forces might storm Hammam al-Alil in the next few hours but that it would depend on the situation on the ground, as civilians were still present. ISIL militants were using a "scorched earth" policy by destroying houses, buildings and bridges to slow down the advancing Iraqi security forces, he said.[131]

Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi government forces have pushed ISIL out of the northern town of Fadiliya, which lies just 4 km away from Mosul.[138]

UN sources stated that ISIL had taken tens of thousands of civilians to use as human shields in Mosul, and executed any who refused to go.[139] At least 5,000 families were taken from around Al-Shura, and 2,210 families from the Nimrud area of Hamdaniya.[137]

29 October[]

Iraqi Shi'ite militias said they had launched an offensive towards the west of Mosul. The Shi'ite militias aim to capture villages west of Mosul and reach the town of Tal Afar, a mainly Iraqi Turkmen town about 55 km (35 miles) from the city, the Hashid spokesman said. Their goal is to cut off any option of retreat by ISIL insurgents into neighboring Syria or any reinforcement for their defense of Mosul.[140][141] Jaafar al-Husseini, a spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades, confirmed that the Shi'ite militias would not enter the heavily Sunni-populated city of Mosul but would concentrate on securing the Iraqi-Syrian border to the west.[142]

Ahmad al-Asadi, a spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces, said it is in charge of "one of the most significant and most dangerous" fronts, and was tasked with recapturing an area of 14,000 sq. km from ISIL.[143]

The Iraqi army and Shi'ite militias liberated the villages of Majman, Humaidiya, Shruq, Mukhalat, Jayif, Abu Arayis, Zwirij, Mustanqa, Haram, Ayn Nasr, Ayn Al-Baizah, San Zaban, Hamza, Mwaylaha, and Sajma.[143]

Mosul Eye confirmed that civilians from outside Mosul had been abducted and forced into the city by ISIL, and that ISIL was confiscating homes from people for their own use. A new escape route from Mosul had been set up by Syrian Kurds, who were charging $3,000 per person to smuggle people out of the city to Turkey. The blog also reported that all bridges into the city have been booby-trapped with IEDs.[144]

30 October[]

According to Peshmerga sources, their troops had liberated six more villages north and east of Mosul, and had seized control of several major roads and landmarks.[145] More than 500 square kilometers have been liberated by the Peshmerga since the operation began, the Peshmerga said in a release.[146]

The Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces said they liberated eight more villages southwest of Mosul: Al-Jarn, Al-Salmani, Al-Mustanqa’ al-Thaniya, Marj Al-Dibaj, Qariya Al-Shik, Ayin Al-Baiyza, Amrini, and Zarka.[147]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 300 Syrian child soldiers brought to Iraq by ISIL have been killed since the offensive began. At least 480 Syrian ISIL fighters had died so far, including the 300 child soldiers, known as the "lion cubs of the caliphate."[148]

31 October[]

A major Iraqi operation was launched to the east of Mosul, capturing the predominantly Sunni/Shabak town of Bazwaya, approximately 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) east of the Mosul city limits. The Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) fell under heavy fire from ISIL before liberating the town and several nearby villages.[149] After capturing, Bazwaya, the last ISIL-occupied town east of Mosul, the ISOF were less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from the city of Mosul, 5 miles (8.0 km) from the city center.[150]

The commander of the Golden Division of the ISOF, Fazil Barwari, spoke to Rudaw Media Network, stating that the Iraqi forces would enter Mosul that night.[151][152] General Talib Shegati, Iraq's counter-terrorism chief, confirmed on Iraqi television that forces would enter the city in "a matter of hours."[153] While Iraqi troops push into the city, the U.S.-led coalition will be used to target ISIL militants from the air if they attempt to flee the city. Hundreds of militants are believed to have already escaped, according to the Pentagon.[154]

A member of the Nineveh Provincial Council stated that that ISIL executed 300 civilians and former security members in the village of Moshairefa, north of Mosul. They had been imprisoned and accused of collaborating with the government.[155]

Iraqi TV network Al Sumaria reported that ISIL has ceased referring to Mosul as the capital of its caliphate, for the first time since it took over the city in 2014, reporting, "A sudden change occurred to ISIS mass media inside the city of Mosul through statements that the city is not the capital of the caliphate, contrary to the ideology followed by ISIS since 2014, that Mosul is the capital of its caliphate."[156]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in Al-Shura, appeared on state television and called on ISIL fighters in Mosul to surrender. ISIL fighters in Mosul "will have no way out, and no way to escape," and that "either they die, or surrender."[150]

1 November[]

The operation to enter the city began at dawn. Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil, commander of the Iraqi special forces (ISOF), said the forces began their assault in Mosul's eastern Karama district, unleashing artillery, tank and machine-gun fire on ISIL positions as they prepared the larger push into the city.[157] Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were targeting ISIL positions, and ISIL had started tire fires to reduce visibility.[12]

Rudaw reported heavy fighting in the morning in the Gogjali district, at the gate of the entrance to eastern Mosul, where ISIL militants used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and sniper fire to try to halt the advance.[158]

The elite Iraqi "Golden Division" entered Mosul's city limits that afternoon, engaging in street fights with ISIL militants.[158] Shortly after the Iraqi army announced that they had taken over Mosul's state television building on the the city's left bank.[159][160]

Between 4 and 5 p.m., sources reported that the Gogjali district was now under Iraqi control, and that Iraqi Army's 9th Division and the 3rd Brigade entered the neighborhood of Judaydat al-Mufti on the left bank of Mosul. Near midnight, the Iraqi war media office reported that airstrikes had killed 116 militants inside the city of Mosul: 29 killed and 25 wounded in Ghabat; 10 killed and 15 wounded at ISIL headquarters, 10 killed at a weapons depot, and 67 militants "of several nationalities" killed at a hotel pool.[158] The Iraqi side suffered no casualties, a government spokesman said.[161]

ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be still hiding in Mosul, said Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdish President Massoud Barzani. Hussein said his government had information from multiple sources that "Baghdadi is there and, if he is killed, it will mean the collapse of the whole [ISIL] system."[162]

On the northern front, the Iraqi 16th Division liberated the villages of Abas Hussein and Raha Al-Aquat.[158]

Dozens of PMF militia fighters were killed or injured in an ISIL ambush outside Mosul, Rudaw reported. At least 15 members were killed and 30 others wounded near Tal Afar, a village still held by ISIL southeast of the city, when they entered abandoned villages booby trapped with explosives.[163]

Mosul Eye reported that Iraqi forces were 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) into the city, and that large numbers of ISIL militants were in the west of the city, likely in retreat after suffering "great losses" in the fighting. ISIL also released dozens of detainees who had been held for two years.[164][165]

The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced plans to take control of the liberated areas of Mosul, by employing the national police while reopening police stations and Civil Defense centers.[166]

2 November[]

Rudaw reported that Iraqi special forces continued fighting remaining ISIL in the eastern quarter of Gogjali, despite the area being declared completely under Iraqi control on Tuesday.[167]

Iraqi Brigadier General Haider Fadhil said his troops were forced to hold their positions in eastern Mosul as poor weather conditions were limiting visibility for drones and aircraft, and preventing them from advancing.[168]

The PMF announced its militia had liberated two villages, Umm al Izam and Khubairat, southwest of Mosul after fierce fighting with ISIL. The PMF stated it had liberated 45 villages since 29 October. The Iraqi Federal Police liberated the villages of al-Qahira, southwest of Hammam al-Alil, and Mankar, north of the Al-Shura district.[167]

Humanitarian issues[]

Between 1 and 1.5 million people live in Mosul, and humanitarian agencies have warned of a potential crisis if hundreds of thousands of people flee the city, with winter approaching. Lise Grande, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, stated, "In a worst-case scenario, we're literally looking at the single largest humanitarian operation in the world in 2016."[11] Save the Children warned that massive civilian bloodshed was likely unless safe routes were allowed to let civilians flee.[169] The U.S. government has accused ISIL of using Mosul civilians as human shields.[170]

ISIL has reportedly threatened to execute civilians trying to flee. Snipers, landmines and trenches are preventing people from attempting to escape.[10] Iraqi officials, via radio broadcasts and leaflets dropped over the city, warned civilians to stay in their homes. Leaflets advised residents of various precautions to take including instructions to tape over their windows to protect from flying glass and to disconnect gas pipes.[16][171]

Italian Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, arrived in Erbil on 17 October to meet with Kurdish officials.[172] The UN has set up five refugee camps capable of taking up to 45,000 people and has the capability of taking in up to 120,000 if more sites are available for camps.[173] Dozens of families from Mosul arrived in the al-Hawl camp in Rojava, Northern Syria, bringing the number of Iraqis in al-Hawl to more than 6,000. On 18 October, more than 2,000 refugees from Mosul were attempting to cross into Syria, according to the People's Defense Units (YPG).[75] The UN is attempting to communicate with citizens inside Mosul that they should not flee to the west of the city toward Syria, an area still under ISIL control, but to the camps in the east.[174]

Australia announced it would donate USD$7.5 million in humanitarian aid to the operation, and New Zealand pledged NZ$1 million (USD$718,600).[175]

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had trained 90 Iraqi medics in "mass casualty management" as part of its preparations for the Mosul operation, with a special focus on responding to chemical attacks, AP reported. IS has previously used chemical weapons in attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces, and there are fears that it might do so again inside Mosul, where more than a million civilians live.[176]

In addition, some 11,700 residents have fled since the offensive began and, according to the UN's worst-case scenario, as many as 700,000 others could follow suit. "There's been quite a dramatic upturn in the last few days," said Karl Schembri of the Norwegian Refugee Council, who warned that there were currently only spaces in camps for 60,000 people. The WHO is working on the assumption that 200,000 of them will require emergency health services, including more than 90,000 children needing vaccinations and 8,000 pregnant women.[134]

Media coverage and social media[]

Several media outlets including Al Jazeera and Channel 4 live streamed the first day's battle on Facebook, a first in war coverage.[177][178][179] Additional live video feeds were available on YouTube and the streaming app Periscope. Iraqi and Kurdish officials are also joining in on social media using the hashtag #FreeMosul.[180] Brendan Gauthier, assistant editor of Salon, noted that given ISIL's slick campaigns on social media, "It's only appropriate then that the Iraqi military’s effort to reclaim Mosul from the PR machine turned extremist group be live-streamed."[181]

Journalist Mustafa Habib reported that Iraqi citizens are coordinating efforts on Facebook and Twitter to counter ISIL propaganda, such as fake photos and videos, that may be used to intimidate locals in Mosul. A communications department of a Shia militia also announced it would be contributing to a social media campaign, and that 500 Iraqi journalists were embedded with the militias surrounding Mosul to report updates.[182]

International Business Times reported that "disturbing and graphic footage posted to social media allegedly shows Iraqi security forces torturing and interrogating young children as they attempt to retake Mosul from the Islamic State terror group."[183]

On 27 October 2016, The New Yorker's Robin Wright interviewed the anonymous self-described historian Mosul Eye, a purported Mosuli who has blogged from the city about life in Mosul under ISIL despite death threats from the group. Responding to Wright's questions, Mosul Eye estimated the size and make-up of ISIL's force in Mosul, hopes for the future ("gain back power over the city" with help of "an international trusteeship to protect Mosul"), and the level of support for ISIS inside Mosul ("There is no support for ISIL in Mosul. They are left only with weapons that they will use to kill themselves once the liberating forces make the decision to raid the city.").[25]

International Reactions[]

Flag of the United States.svg United States
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on 16 October said "This is a decisive moment in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat" in a statement.[184]
File:Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has boldly, but eventually in vain, insisted on a role in the battle for Mosul in a number of incendiary speeches, to the degree that the Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi warned of a military confrontation between Turkey and Iraq.[185] Erdogan's approach has been described as "reckless policy and erratic statements" by the Financial Times, motivated by domestic policy considerations.[186] On 26 October, Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said "Fighting ISIL is necessary, but the process after ISIL must be planned carefully."[187] After a build-up of Turkish troops on the Iraqi border, Haider al-Abadi on 1 November warned that Turkish troops would pay a "heavy price" if they cross into Iraq.[188]

See also[]

  • American-led intervention in Iraq (2014–present)
  • Battle of Fallujah (2016)
  • Nineveh Plains offensive
  • Second Battle of Tikrit

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External links[]

Template:Military intervention against ISIL Template:Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Coordinates: 35°48′01″N 43°17′23″E / 35.8003°N 43.2897°E / 35.8003; 43.2897

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