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ISHM for Week Ending June 22 2017

  • Aid Agencies Struggle to Keep Up with Mosul Exodus - As Iraqi Security Forces push into ISIS’s bastions in Mosul’s Old City, the rate of civilian displacement has sharply increased. Approximately 150,000 civilians are trapped in remaining militant-held neighborhoods. As fighting intensifies, the UN expects 120,000-150,000 civilians to flee, worsening a situation that the UN’s Iraq Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande has called “beyond the worst case scenario” for IDPs; the UN planned for 750,000 displaced civilians, but to-date over 860,000 people have fled. Humanitarian responders have struggled to provide aid for growing numbers of IDPs, and lack sufficient transportation, food, water, or shelter to meet rising need. To manage civilian outflow, the UN has coordinated with the ISF to allow a maximum of 20,000 people to flee Mosul per day. Conditions inside ISIS-held Mosul are deteriorating as summer temperatures climb and security forces employ indiscriminate munitions, including rockets and artillery. Civilians remaining in Mosul’s Old City lack food and water; ISIS snipers continue to execute those caught attempting to flee across ISF frontlines.  more...
  • ISIS Destroys Famed al-Nuri Mosque; CTS Advances into Mosul’s Old City - On June 21, ISIS militants destroyed Mosul’s al-Nouri Mosque – with its famous “hunchback minaret” constructed in 1172 – in a controlled demolition. In 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first speech in occupied Mosul at the mosque, and control of the site would have been a major strategic and symbolic victory for the Iraqi forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described ISIS’s actions as an “official announcement of their defeat.” The explosion came after the Iraqi Army’s Counter-Terrorism Service made rapid gains into the last ISIS-held areas of Mosul’s Old City. The advance marks the final phase of the nine-month operation to liberate Mosul from the militants. Forced to navigate narrow streets, defuse numerous IEDs, and protect an estimated 100,000-150,000 civilians still trapped by ISIS, the ISF has advanced slowly.  more...
  • PMUs Reach Iraq/Syria Border - On June 17, a combined Iraqi Army and PMU force cleared ISIS militants from Anbar Province’s strategic Al-Walid border crossing into Syria, approximately 450 kilometers west of Ramadi. These forces were supported by U.S.-led international coalition and Iraqi airstrikes. The crossing, previously held by ISIS, is part of the highway from Baghdad to Damascus, and is located near a U.S. military base across the border in Syria. One day after these operations concluded, a PMU senior political advisor announced that PMU forces would remain at the border.  more...
  • Local Forces Thwart Attacks in Diyala - On June 19, an Iraqi airstrike killed 10 ISIS militants in northern Diyala Province, conducted using intelligence gathered by PMU forces in the area. The strike comes as security in Diyala slowly deteriorates. Since the start of Ramadan, provincial security officials claim they have thwarted six ISIS attacks; many suicide attacks conducted in the province have been conducted by ISIS’s so-called “cubs of the Caliphate” brigades, which comprise young children.  more...
  • Prime Minister Abadi Meets with Regional Leaders; Iran Pushes Support of Shia PMUs - Over the past week, Prime Minister Abadi traveled to Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Kuwait. In light of the ongoing Qatar dispute, Abadi’s itinerary reflected his statements that “Iraq will not be party to any dispute between the countries.” Importantly, while in Tehran, Abadi met with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who warned Abadi against taking any actions to weaken the PMU. Khamenei further criticized the U.S., advising Abadi not to trust the Americans because “they and their regional allies (Saudi Arabia) have created ISIS with their money and do not wish to fully eliminate them” in Iraq.  more...
  • International Community Pushes Back on Kurdish Independence Referendum - Following the declaration by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that an independence referendum would be held on September 25, the majority of regional and international actors have criticized the decision. However, Iraqi Kurdish leaders continue to push forward on the vote. Barzani responded to the widespread criticism by stating that, “we cannot wait to solve all the problems in the Kurdistan region...it cannot be postponed” and further criticized international players for their opposition to what is the “legitimate right of [the Kurdish] people.”  more...
Derived from firsthand accounts and Iraq-based Arabic and Kurdish news sources, the Iraq Security and Humanitarian Monitor is a free publication of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center. 
Share us with a friend. The full report for June 16 - 22, 2017 is available now at: www.epic-usa.org/ishm117

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