By Adam Brown
By Adam Brown
Rabat – Four weeks after the official move to retake ISIL stronghold of Mosul, Iraq began, officials are reporting they have reclaimed the eastern third of the city.
The battle for Mosul, officially launched the week of October 16, has resulted in extensive casualties and damage to the city. News agency, Reuters reports that, as of November 15, one third of the eastern side of the city has been reclaimed. In this push, “…955 insurgents have been killed and 108 captured on the southern frontlines of the city alone.” In a recent interview, Brigadier-General Saad Maan, mentioned that Iraqi forces hope to consolidate their holdings in the eastern city before pushing forward.
There is increasing pressure to cement Iraqi coalition gains in the eastern part of Mosul as ISIL is still utilizing unorthodox tactics to disrupt progress in the area. According to a report in the Independent, “Isis is sending waves of suicide bombers, either as individuals who blow themselves up or in vehicles packed with explosives, snipers and mortar teams, to restart the fighting in a dozen districts that the Iraqi Army had said were already captured.” The use of these tactics is what has made ISIL such a hard force to fight. Their reliance on suicide attacks, coupled with elaborate defenses, make their removal from areas already reported as reclaimed a painful and drawn out exercise. This painfully slow progress is an indicator of what many had predicted at the outset; that the battle for the strategic city of Mosul will last for months.
As forces progressed into the city they discovered an elaborate tunnel system estimated to be more than 45 miles long. In addition, ISIL has brazenly continued to kill civilians. “The UN says that it has executed some 70 civilians in Mosul accused of collaboration with Iraqi forces over the last week,” according to information published in the Independent.
Sadly, but inevitably, civilian displacement is increasing, raising concern from UN committees. The current estimate of those displaced is over 54,000, with no evidence of it slowing down. As reported by Aljazeera, “The UN has estimated as many as one million Iraqis may flee their homes in a matter of weeks.” If this becomes a reality Mosul will become one of the largest humanitarian crises so far this century. There are approximately 1.5 million people trapped within Mosul. They are effectively ISIL’s hostages with no viable way to leave the city.
According to the same Aljazeera report, “There is no way out for us as families. Even if we think about fleeing the city, that is not possible at the time being. We are being held hostages; ISIL took the whole city of Mosul as hostage.”
The 54,000 currently displaced civilians have found temporary shelter behind the Kurdish and Iraqi borders.