Iraqi forces edge further into Mosul

Iraqi forces said they had seized ground inside Mosul’s Old City, a district expected to see some of the fiercest clashes in the battle for the militant stronghold. An operation began on February 19 to retake Mosul’s west, the last major Islamic State group urban bastion in the country, which includes the Old City. Iraqi forces have since retaken several neighbourhoods despite bad weather that has hampered air support.
But as they close in on the ancient central district they face particular difficulties. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to be trapped under IS rule in the warren of densely populated, narrow streets which restrict the use of large armoured vehicles. Federal police commander Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said yesterday that Iraqi forces backed by artillery and drones had advanced in the district. “Federal police and Rapid Response units imposed their complete control over the Al-Basha Mosque…and the Bab al-Saray market in the Old City,” he said. The two sites lie on the edge of the district in the heart of Mosul, next to the Tigris river that slices the city in two.
Further west, forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service have pushed into the Al-Rissala and Nablus quarters, senior commander Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi said. “The situation is good,” he said. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, would be a major setback for IS following months of losses in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. Mosul has huge symbolic significance for the group: it was from the Old City’s Al-Nouri mosque that its secretive chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of his “caliphate” in July 2014. Iraqi forces backed by an international US-led coalition launched a vast, long-awaited operation in October to oust the militants from Mosul, completing their recapture of the east in January.

Thousands more Iraqis flee Mosul battles with livestock


Nearly 130,000 out of 1.5 million Iraqis have been displaced from Mosul and its surrounding areas owing to the fighting, the spokesman added at a news briefing. Approximately 50,000 children have been affected by the conflict. The UN refugee agency described the humanitarian situation as “dire” with food stockpiles dwindling and the price of staples spiralling, boreholes drying up or turning brackish from over-use and camps and emergency sites to the south and east reaching maximum capacity. In a report published last week, the agency said as many as one million people are estimated to be out of reach of humanitarian assistance.









What’s left of Mosul’s University

General view of the library of the University of Mosul, burned and destroyed during the battle with Islamic State militants. The University of Mosul is a public university located in Mosul. It is one of the largest educational and research centers in the Middle East, and the second largest in Iraq, behind the University of Baghdad. The University of Mosul was closed  in 2014 but reopened just after a few months with new buildings and courses. Over 8,000 books and 100,000 manuscripts in its library were believed to have been destroyed. The university was considered to have been used as a base by ISIS and was hit by Combined Joint Task Force airstrikes in March 2016. Iraqi forces recaptured it in January 2017.

Thousands of displaced Iraqis face winter in camps

Since the start of the Iraqi military operation to retake Mosul in October last year, more than 144,500 people have been displaced and a majority of them are in desperate need of live-saving humanitarian assistance, the United Nations migration agency has warned. “Humanitarian aid is essential for the survival of the thousands of families displaced by Mosul operations who have left everything behind to save their own lives,” said Thomas Lothar Weiss, the Chief of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) operations in Iraq. “Assistance must provide for a range of needs – including shelter, household items, health and livelihoods,” he added, underlining the need for additional funding to sustain relief efforts and to prepare for further displacement from the ongoing crisis.

The fight for Mosul : One month on

Iraqi forces push out Islamic State block by block in eastern Mosul, engaging in clashes as they pass residents’ doorsteps.

The street-to-street battles for Mosul

More than 2,000 Iraqis a day are fleeing Mosul, several hundred more each day than before Iraqi forces began a new phase of their battle to retake the city from ISIS, the United Nations said.

Mosul offensive : The civilians fleeing the battle lines

Iraqi civilians are said to be enduring dire conditions after fleeing the Mosul area as the army attempts to retake the city from  Islamic State (IS). Some 5,000 people have crossed the border into Syria in the last 10 days, the aid agency Save the Children says. They have arrived at the al-Hol refugee camp where conditions are already reported to be filthy and overcrowded. Up to 1.5 million civilians are thought to still be in Mosul. The whereabouts of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are unknown. Some reports say he is in Mosul; others say he has fled.

Mosul offensive : Life after ISIL on the outskirts of Mosul

The operation to retake Mosul has now reached the city itself. Special forces and other Iraqi army units breached its eastern outskirts just under a week ago, and have now pushed into a number of districts. Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) have been putting up stiff resistance, forcing Iraqi troops into grinding urban warfare and making devastating use of suicide car bombs, improvised explosive devices and snipers.
Meanwhile, thousands of civilians have made their way out of the city towards newly built camps for the internally displaced to the east. Some travelled in cars or lorries, while others made their way on foot, some herding their livestock before them. ISIL fighters have controlled Mosul since June 2014.







Battle for Mosul : Blood, Dirt, Bombs – and a Generation of Children

The oil-rich town of Qayyara, about 60km south of Mosul, was retaken in August from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose fighters controlled the town for more than two years. Anticipating their defeat, fighters with ISIL (also known as ISIS) first torched oil wells along the edges of the town in early July. The oil plumes billowing up from the ground aimed to impede US-led coalition air strikes, and to leave a ruined prize behind. An acrid stench of sulphur and oil now permeates the city, and soot has stained everything black. Still, life is returning to the streets. Civilians have come back from camps and informal settlements, as fruit sellers ply their trade with paper masks over their mouths to help protect their lungs. Iraqi fire crews have so far been unable to fully extinguish the massive fires. In the meantime, the civilian population of Qayyara has been left to choke on the fumes, spread at the mercy of the wind, which can leave the skies clear on one day, and blot out the sun the next.

Escape from Islamic State in Iraq

 People escape from a village in Iraq along a route where Islamic State snipers three days earlier had shot dead a couple seeking freedom from their rule.