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Iraqi Security Update Ending March 30 2017

English: Market in Mosul.
English: Market in Mosul. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Reprinted brief synopsis via ISHM

Key Takeaways:



Hundreds of Civilian Casualties in Western Mosul Blamed on Coalition Airstrikes -

On March 17, U.S.-led international coalition warplanes carried out airstrikes on a suspected ISIS location in the al-Jadida neighborhood of western Mosul. The airstrikes leveled multiple buildings, and likely caused the deaths of an estimated 101 to 263 civilians. Both Iraq’s Defense Minister Irfan Hiyali and U.S. Central Command have ordered inquiries into the incident. On March 28, Lt. General Stephen Townsend, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters that “if we did it - and there is a fair chance that we did - it was an unintentional accident of war, and we will transparently report it to you when we’re ready.” A sharp rise in civilian casualties in Mosul has outraged several Iraqi politicians and members of the public - most of whom do not accept an alternative narrative circulating in the Iraqi media that ISIS IEDs are responsible for the March 17 incident. According to Iraqi Army Brig. General Thaer Mosawi, 3,864 civilians have been killed in western Mosul since operations to clear that part of the city began on February 19. Protocol for authorizing airstrikes changed after December 26, 2016, when U.S. military advisors were embedded with Iraqi Army units at the front lines in Mosul. Authority for airstrikes was shifted to coalition troops at the front lines and eliminated the need for clearance from upper brass in Baghdad. This change in authorization, the increasing closeness of combat with ISIS militants, and the ISIS tactic of using civilians as human shields will continue to greatly endanger civilians in Mosul if rules of engagement are left unchanged. more...

Security Forces in Mosul Regroup as More U.S. Troops Deploy -

Mindful of increasing international pressure to reduce civilian casualties in western Mosul, Iraqi Security Forces slowed their advances into the that part of the city this week. On March 27, 240 troops from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC deployed to Iraq. The deployment includes two Army infantry companies and one platoon equipped to dismantle roadside IEDs. The troops will join the nearly 5,000 U.S. troops already stationed in Iraq for force protection and advise-and-assist missions. more...

Despite Improved Security, Eastern Mosul Remains a Target -

Despite being ostensibly clear of ISIS militants, and attempts at a return to some semblance of normalcy, civilians in eastern Mosul remain vulnerable targets. On March 26, ISIS militants fired three mortars on the Nabi Younis covered market in eastern Mosul, killing 13 adults and two children. Running water and electricity are scarce or non-existent and residents are cramped in tight quarters with family who have fled western Mosul, or whose homes have been destroyed. Desperate to flee the even more violent western half of the city, dozens of civilians - including children - are killed each day as they attempt to cross from the west to the east, either by security forces fearful that the fleeing civilians are ISIS militants, or by ISIS militants themselves. Officially, the Iraqi Government is continuing to urge civilians in the west to remain in their homes rather than attempt to flee - an increasingly difficult request as food and water supplies dwindle to nothing and nearby fighting intensifies. (For more on conditions in eastern Mosul, see our recent trip report by EPIC's Matthew Schweitzer.) more...


Kurdish Flag Flies in Kirkuk, Civil Servants Pay Suspended -

On March 28, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that it would raise the Kurdistan region’s flag over government facilities in Kirkuk. This action sparked anger from Iraqi officials; in response, acting Iraqi Finance Minister and Member of Parliament, Abdul Razzaq al-Issa, canceled the paychecks of Kirkuk’s government employees. One day after the flag raising, hundreds of Turkmen residents protested the act by flying Iraqi and Turkmen flags. Yet, despite these protests, on March 29 the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) parliamentary bloc congratulated Kirkuk Provincial Governor Najmaddin Karim for the Kurdish flag-raising, with KRG Vice President Qubad Talabani extending special congratulations to the entire province. Kurdish officials’ actions in Kirkuk come as relations between the KRG and the Iraqi government remain tense. On March 28, KRG Minister of Health Rekawat Hamarshid reported that the Baghdad government had allegedly withheld medicine and medical supplies to Iraqi Kurdistan, precipitating an “immediate and serious” crisis amidst the ongoing influx of internally displaced persons to areas under KRG control. more...

Violence Continues on Diyala, Salah ad-Din Border; Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use Emerge -

 On March 28, ISIS militants launched six mortars at the village of Mubarak al-Farhan, near Baquba on the Diyala/Salah ad-Din border. According to Uday al-Khaddran, Mayor of nearby Khalis, the mortars caused “cases of suffocation among some civilians as a result of strange gases,” and “all evidence indicates that the missiles were carrying a [toxic] chlorine gas.” Although the allegation has not been verified, ISIS militants have used chemical weapons with varying degrees of potency against civilian populations elsewhere in Iraq. more...

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