- Special report on civilian conditions, attitudes inside Mosul
- IS militants further damage bridges crossing Tigris
- Airstrikes kill several IS leaders, identified by name
- Iraqi forces make marginal advances on Left Bank, prepare for assault to take Mosul University campus
Editor's Note: Iraq Oil Report gathers daily updates on security and humanitarian developments inside Mosul city and surrounding IS-held areas in Ninewa province from a network of local reporters, residents, resistance fighters, and IS militants. Because of the physical risks associated with information-gathering in these areas, these reports are not comprehensive, and many cannot be confirmed via multiple, reliable sources. Nonetheless, we believe there is a significant public interest in publishing this reporting, as it gives readers a view of the battle for Mosul from the opposite side of the front lines.
The Custom Research Service of Iraq Oil Report also collects hard data on violence in IS-held territory, compiles maps and analysis of trends, and tracks economic indicators including commodity prices. For more information, email Custom Research Service Director Jared Levy at CRS@iraqoilreport.com.
Special report: collected civilian observations from across Mosul
Civilian opinion of Iraqi security forces is generally extremely positive and there are almost no fears reported about the prospect of unfair treatment or detention. This extends to the Rapid Response Division (RRD) of the militarized Federal Police, which joined urban offensives in East Mosul after Dec. 29. Civilians in RRD-liberated areas report good relations with RRD forces and some humanitarian relief provided.
Civilians widely and in strong terms denounce any attempt to involve forces from the al-Hashid al-Shabi militias, citing reports of detainee abuses in Sunni areas in which the group has previously been active. They are also deeply skeptical of the al-Hashid al-Ashayari – the Sunni tribal forces used to hold liberated areas in rural Ninewa – who are reputed to confiscate property.
Attitudes about the progress of the Mosul campaign differ sharply between the Right Bank and Left Bank, however. Residents of the Left Bank are optimistic about the ongoing military operations to liberate the city. On the Right Bank, any optimism about the Iraqi forces’ military campaign against IS that has arisen after news of renewed offensives has been dampened by the belief that a military operation to liberate the Right Bank will drag on into the summer, during which time conditions will worsen severely. Civilians believe that IS has reserved a greater number of suicide attack teams and VBIEDs on the Right Bank than they understand have been used on the Left Bank, many deeply embedded within civilian populations.
Civilians report a recent spate of IS retreats and withdrawals from defensive positions in the Left Bank, signaling a possible collapse of the group's defenses in that part of the city. Eyewitnesses report IS militants crossing the river to the Right Bank in large groups, and heading for neighborhoods on the western edge of the Right Bank, such as Wadi Hajjar and Tal Ruman, suggesting these fighters are local and are returning to their native areas of the city.
Living conditions for residents of liberated areas on the Left Bank are showing modest improvement. Food (mainly rice, flour, and cooking oil) and fuel distributions have increased. Civilians had complained particularly strongly of shortages of kerosene, given the cold weather and their reliance on it as heating and cooking fuel, but these shortages are gradually being addressed. Diesel supplies for localized power generation have also improved in several neighborhoods, allowing more continual pumping of borehole water for domestic use and providing some power.
Conditions for civilians on the IS-held Right Bank continue to deteriorate, with severe shortages of food and clean running water. Water recovered from boreholes is running dry and becoming unusably dirty. There are marked increases in begging – especially by children – and families trawling trash bins and dumpsters for discarded food.
Civilians still live under threat of shelling, especially in contested neighborhoods and liberated areas near the front, mainly from IS militants. Civilians have been fleeing IS-controlled areas in greater numbers for several days, as IS militants appear to be focusing more resources on targeting civilians, in what one civilian describes as “intensified random bombardment” of residential areas. This is a reversal of early attitudes to displacement: civilians previously had been very reluctant to relocate in the interests of supervising their homes and avoiding what are widely reputed to be very poor conditions in displacement camps, with the risk of men being arrested during the screening process. Now, however, civilians are more inclined to leave their homes, either relocating to camps or squatting farther away from the front.
(Source: civilian eyewitnesses from the Tal al-Ruman, Wadi Hajjar, New Mosul, Muthanna, Zuhur and Wahida neighborhoods)
Iraqi military activity
At around 3:30 a.m., IS militants detonated explosive on the Fifth Bridge and the Old Bridge (also known as the Iron Bridge and First Bridge), increasing damage to both. Both bridges had been previously hit by airstrikes, disabling the bridges but causing minimal damage. (Sources: officer from 15th Division, officer from 16th Division)
Forces from the 15th and 16th divisions, with a small supplement from Sunni tribal Hashid al-Ashayari forces, advanced on the Thubat neighborhood on the Left Bank, killing around 30 IS militants, and destroying four VBIEDs and five mortar positions. (Source: 15th Division officer, 16th Division officer, Hashid al-Ashayari fighter)
Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) forces shot down a bomb-laden IS drone in the Baladiyat neighborhood on the Left Bank during clearance operations, which includes the liberation of the Baladiyat and Sukar neighborhoods. (Source: CTS officer)
Federal Police forces took control of an IS recruitment and media center in the Palestine neighborhood on the Left Bank, confiscating several armored vehicles and a weapons cache. (Source: Federal Police officer)
Resistance and civilian activity
Overnight, gunmen claiming to operate under the banner of Kataib al-Mosul shot dead an IS leader named as Laith Abdul-Jabar al-Jibouri, also known as Abu Safaa, in the Arabi neighborhood in the north of the city. (Source: Kataib al-Mosul member)
At around 9 a.m., mortar and rocket shelling in the Muthanna neighborhood killed nine civilians and injured seven more. (Source: civilian eyewitness in Muthanna neighborhood)
At around 11:30 a.m., a mortar struck a civilian home on the southern fringes of the Right Bank, killing three members of the same family. (Source: civilian eyewitness)
At around 1 a.m., an airstrike targeted an arms and ammunition warehouse in the Magtah area on the Right Bank, killing several IS militants. (Source: civilian eyewitness in the New Mosul neighborhood)
At around 6 a.m., an airstrike targeted an IS field hospital in the Thubat neighborhood on the Left Bank, killing almost a dozen IS militants and destroying one mortar launcher. (Source: civilian eyewitness in the Muthana neighborhood)
At around 7 a.m., an airstrike destroyed a large VBIED and IED factory in the Rashidiyah area in northern Mosul, causing large secondary explosions. Airstrikes also struck IS hideouts in the area, killing several IS militants. (Source: civilian eyewitness)
Airstrikes targeted the hideouts of several senior IS militants in the Islah Zerahi neighborhood on the Right Bank, killing three of them, and around a dozen IS militants guarding them. The leaders were named as: Ahmed Muzihl al-Ajami, known as Abu Saed al Insari, who oversaw the "Khalifa Army" group; Hazim Mohammed, known as Abu Sinan, who was in charge of what IS called a "strike force"; and Mahmood Ismail Abduallah, knowing as Abu Laith al-Khatoni, who was a leader of suicide squad operations. (Source: civilian eyewitness)
An airstrike in the Hadbah neighborhood killed a senior IS militant named as Luay Mohammed, known as Abu al-Barah, who was IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's assistant formerly in charge of IS’s policing operations. (Source: civilian eyewitness in the Hadbah neighborhood)
Airstrikes destroyed a large VBIED and rocket manufacturing and storage facility in the Mithaq industrial area on the Left Bank, destroying the facility and killing several IS militants. (Source: civilian eyewitness in the Wahida neighborhood)
At around 7:30 a.m., airstrikes targeted a squad of IS long-range rocket specialists in the Hadbah neighborhood, killing several of them, and destroying a large truck containing a range of weapons. (Source: civilian eyewitness)
Iraq Oil Report staff reporting on Mosul are anonymous for their security.
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