Battle of Mosul (2016)

For other Mosul offensives, see Battle of Mosul (disambiguation).
Battle of Mosul (2016)
Part of the Iraqi Civil War and
the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq
Infographic of Mosul within Iraq
Infographic of Mosul within Iraq, with initial positions of Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga, October 2016.
Date16 October 2016 – present
(1 month, 2 weeks and 4 days)
Status Ongoing
As of 31 October, ISF and Peshmerga have captured a total of 1,400 square kilometres (540 sq mi) and 123 settlements from ISIL.[1][2][3]

Iraq Iraq
Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan

Supported by:

 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Commanders and leaders

Haidar al-Abadi
(Prime Minister of Iraq)
Iraq Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati al-Kenan
(Joint Military Command, ICTS)
Iraq Maj. Gen. Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri
(ISF commander of Operations)
Iraq Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jalil al-Barwari
(ISOF commander)
Iraq Maj. Gen. Thamer al-Husseini
(Iraqi police rapid response units commander)
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis[11]
(Head of the PMF)
Hadi Al-Amiri[12]
(Badr Organization commander)
Qais al-Khazali[13]
(Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq commander)
Mazlum Shengal
(YBŞ commander)[14]
Berivan Arin
(YJÊ commander)[14]

Iraqi Kurdistan:
Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani
(President of Iraqi Kurdistan)

United States:
United States Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
(CJTF-OIR commander)
United States Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky
(Commander of CJTF Land Component Command)


Muhammad Kawarithmi[10]
(Hezbollah commander of Iraqi operations)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
(Leader of ISIL)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Zeyad Kharoufa [15]
(ISIL Information Minister and Propaganda Chief)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Marwan Hamid Salih al-Hayali [16]
(Local wali of ISIL)

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Aziz Ali [17]
(Senior commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Aymam al-Mosuli [18]
(Commander of the special security forces)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Faruq [19]
(Commander of Bashiqa)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Yakoub [20]
(Operations official)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Hamza al-Ansari [21]
(Senior leader)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Mahmoud Shukri al-Nuaimi [22]
(a.k.a. Sheikh Faris; senior commander)
Units involved


Air Force
Special Ops Forces

  • 1st Special Ops Brigade ("Golden Division")
  • 2nd Special Ops Brigade

Federal Police
Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)[23]

Iraqi Kurdistan:
Iraqi Kurdistan Peshmerga

United States:


United Kingdom:

Military of ISIL


Iraq 54,000–60,000 ISF troops[34][35]
14,000 paramilitary troops[34]

Iraqi Kurdistan 40,000 Peshmerga troops[34]
Hundreds of CJTF–OIR personnel
4,000–9,000 militants
(1,000 foreigners)[36][37]
Casualties and losses

IraqIraqi Kurdistan 1,600–2,000 killed
IraqIraqi Kurdistan 450+ wounded (In November 2016)
(per UN)[38]
Iraqi Kurdistan 1,600 killed, 1,000 wounded
(per Peshmerga)[39][40][41][42]
United States 1 killed[43]

Iraq Iraqi Kurdistan 4,000+ killed
(until 30 November 2016)[44]
(ISIL claim)
1,365–2,000 killed[45][46][47]
(Iraqi and U.S. claim)
926 civilians killed[38]
68,000 civilians displaced[48][49]

The Battle of Mosul (Arabic: معركة الموصل; Central Kurdish: شەڕی مووسڵ) is a joint offensive by Iraqi government forces with allied militias, Iraqi Kurdistan, and international forces to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[50][51][52] The offensive, dubbed Operation "We Are Coming, Nineveh" (قادمون يا نينوى; Qadimun Ya Naynawa),[53][54] began on 16 October 2016 with forces besieging ISIL-controlled areas in the Nineveh Governorate surrounding Mosul.[55][56][57] The battle for Mosul is considered key in the military intervention against ISIL, which seized the city in June 2014.[58] Outnumbering ISIL forces 10 to 1, it is the largest deployment of Iraqi forces since the 2003 invasion by U.S. and coalition forces.[59]

The operation follows the Mosul offensive in 2015 and 2016. The offensive began with Iraqi troops and Peshmerga fighters engaging ISIL on three fronts outside Mosul, going village to village in the surrounding area. More than 120 towns and villages were liberated from ISIL control in the first two weeks of fighting. At dawn on 1 November, Iraqi Special Operations Forces entered the city on the eastern front.[60] Met with fierce fighting, the Iraqi advance into the city was slowed by elaborate defenses – including road blocks, booby traps, suicide bombers and snipers – along with the presence of civilians.[61]

The Battle of Mosul is concurrent with the Raqqa offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on ISIL's stronghold in Syria.

The Battle of Mosul is also concurrent with the latest Aleppo offensive by the Syrian government against jihadist groups unrelated to ISIL in the Syrian city of Aleppo.[62]


Map of the Kurdish-launched Mosul offensive, as of August 2016

General background

Mosul is Iraq's second most populous city. It fell to 800 ISIL militants in June 2014 because of the largely Sunni population's deep distrust of the primarily Shia Iraqi government and its corrupt armed forces.[36][63] It was in the Great Mosque in Mosul that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the beginning of ISIL's self-proclaimed "caliphate" which spans Iraq and Syria.[63] The original population of 2.5 million has fallen to approximately 1.5 million after two years of ISIL rule. The city was once extremely diverse, with ethnic minorities including Armenians, Yazidis, Assyrian, Turkmen, and Shabak people, who suffered considerably under the virulently murderous Sunni Arab ISIL.[64] Mosul remains the last stronghold of ISIL in Iraq,[65] and the anticipated offensive to reclaim it was hyped as the "mother of all battles".[66][67][68][69]

Preparations for the battle

In the weeks leading up to the ground offensive, the US-led CJTF - OIR coalition bombed ISIL targets, and the Iraqi Army made gradual advances on the city.[59] Royal Air Force's Reaper drones, Typhoons and Tornados targeted "rocket launchers, ammunition stockpiles, artillery pieces and mortar positions" in the 72 hours before the ground assault began.[70] Leaflets dropped on the city by the Iraqi army advised young male residents to "rise up" against ISIL when the battle began.[65] To prepare defenses against the assault, ISIL operatives dug 4 m2 holes around the city, which they planned to fill with burning oil to reduce visibility[59] and slow advances.[35] They also built hundreds of elaborate tunnels in the villages surrounding Mosul, rigged with explosives and booby-traps, and laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines along the roads.[71] There was considerable concern that ISIL may employ chemical weapons against soldiers and civilians.[72]

According to Iraqi sources, the assault towards Mosul was being waged from Al-Khazer axis (east of Mosul), Mosul Dam (northern axis), Baashiqa axis (eastern axis), Al-Qayyarah axis (southern axis), and Talul el-Baj- Al-Khadr axis (southwestern axis).[73]

Forces involved in the offensive

U.S. Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force, at Qayyarah Airfield West, 22 September 2016

About 3,000–5,000 ISIL fighters were estimated to be in Mosul, according to the United States Department of Defense.[74] Other estimates ranged as low as 2,000 and high as 9,000 ISIL fighters.[36] Mosul Eye estimated approximately 8,000–9,000 fighters loyal to ISIL, with "[h]alf of them... highly trained, and the rest... either teen-agers or not well trained. About ten percent of the fighters are foreign (Arabs and non-Arabs). The rest are Iraqis. Most are from Nineveh’s townships and districts."[75]

The Iraqi-led coalition was initially estimated by CNN to have 94,000 members,[76] but this number was later revised upward to 108,500;[77] 54,000 to 60,000 Iraqi security forces (ISF) soldiers, 16,000 Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters, and 40,000 Peshmerga (including approximately 200 Iranian Kurdish female fighters from PAK)[78] are deployed in the battle.[34][35]

Among the PMF units, the Christian Nineveh Plain Forces composed of Assyrians are among the paramilitary forces in the Iraqi coalition.[79] Shia militias including several brigades of the paramilitary organization Hashd al-Shaabi, the Peace Companies, Kata'ib Hezbollah, the League of the Righteous, the Badr Organization, Saraya Ashura, Saraya Khorasani, Kata'ib al-Imam Ali, Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba and Turkmen Brigades also took part.[12][80] The Ezidi community of the Sinjar region contribute Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ) and Êzîdxan Women's Units (YJÊ),[27] which are operating in concert with Sunni Arab Shammar tribal militias and People's Defence Forces (HPG) of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).[81]

Peshmerga soldiers prepare to conduct a combined arms live-fire exercise with an Italian instructor near Erbil, on 12 October 2016.

An international coalition of 60 nations, led by the United States, is supporting Iraq's war against ISIL, providing logistical and air support, intelligence and advice.[82] The international coalition forces are headquartered 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of Mosul at Qayyarah Airfield West (or Q-West) in Qayyarah, which was reclaimed from ISIL in June.[83] About 560 U.S. troops from the 101st Airborne Division were deployed to Q-West for the battle, including command and control elements, a security detachment, an airfield operations team, and logistics and communications specialists.[84] The U.S. deployed HIMARS rocket launchers and M777 howitzers, manned by the 101st's 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the Golf Company, 526th Brigade Support Battalion. The French army deployed four CAESAR howitzers and 150 to 200 soldiers at Qayyarah, with 600 more French troops announced at the end of September.[85] An additional 150 French soldiers are in Erbil, east of Mosul, training Peshmerga.[80] The aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, with a squadron of 24 Rafale M jets, was deployed from Toulon to the Syrian coast to support the operation against ISIL through airstrikes and reconnaissance missions; 12 other Rafale jets are operating out of French Air Force bases in Jordan and the UAE.[86][87] 80 Australian special forces soldiers and 210 CANSOFCOM soldiers were also deployed to assist the Peshmerga. In addition, the Canadian Forces 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment was also reported to be in the area, working to intercept and relay ISIL communications, while a Role 2 Canadian Army field hospital with 60 personnel has been set up to treat Kurdish casualties.[88][89]

An Iraqi soldier during a course on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense training at Camp Taji. Coalition forces have expressed fears ISIL may use chemical weapons during the Battle of Mosul.

The Ba'ath loyalists group, known to be led by Saddam Hussein's former vice president Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, issued a statement before the start of operations calling for the people of the city to make an uprising against ISIL and announced that they will fight the "terrorist organization."[90][91]

Battle timeline

October: Initial advances

16–17 October
A U.S. Army M109A6 Paladin conducts a fire mission at Qayyarah Airfield West, in support of the Iraqi security forces' push toward Mosul, 17 October 2016.

On 16 October, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the beginning of the assault to recapture the city of Mosul.[57] Officials reported howitzers firing on ISIL targets later that day.[55] The main assault began on 17 October at approximately 6 a.m.[65] with shelling and arrival of armored vehicles to the front lines.[92] The Peshmerga in the Khazir region east of Mosul started the ground assault by advancing on ISIL-held villages from three fronts, with Iraqi security forces advancing from the south.[93] Iraqi troops advanced on the Bartella area east of Mosul while ISIL fighters fired mortars at Peshmerga.[94] The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, said that Peshmerga and Iraqi fighters retook 200 square kilometers (80 square miles) from ISIL on the first day of fighting.[95] Iraqi officials reported that "heavy losses of life and equipment" were inflicted upon ISIL fighters in the Hamdaniya district southeast of Mosul. ISIL fighters who were injured in the battle were reported to have been bused towards the group's Syrian headquarters of Raqqa for medical aid.[34] The anti-ISIL coalition destroyed 52 targets during the day[96] Family members of ISIL fighters fled from Mosul to the village of Nawran due to the shelling. It was also reported that some fighters had started shaving their beards and were getting rid of their Afghan uniforms.[97] The group was also reported to have evacuated and shifted its headquarters from west side of Mosul to its east side.[98] A bridge into Mosul known as the "Freedom Bridge" was destroyed on 17 October. Peshmerga sources blamed ISIL for its destruction, while ISIL claimed it was blown up by airstrikes.[99]

18 October

On 18 October, The Iraqi government declared that 20 villages near Mosul were captured from ISIL in the first 24 hours of fighting by the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.[100] On the southern front, Iraqi troops retook several villages near Qayyarah, including al-Sirt, Bajwaniya, al-Hud and al-Mashraf, and parts of the al-Hamdaniya District southeast of Mosul. Iraqi Federal Police also regained control of 56 oilfields in the Qayyarah district.[101] According to reports, the Peshmerga were met with little resistance on the eastern front, while Iraqi and PMF fighters coming from the south were facing tougher resistance from ISIL.[102]

The coalition strategy was reported to be encircling Mosul completely before Iraqi troops advanced into the city-center.[103] Early in the day on 18 October, Iraqi forces in the east came close to Qaraqosh (Bakhdida), once the largest Christian town in Iraq, and fighters in the south were closing in on Hammam al-'Alil.[96] Iraqi Army later stormed Qaraqosh and fought with ISIL fighters who remained holed up.[104][105][106] The Iraqi and Peshmerga advance had been slowed down during the same day due to suicide bombers, roadside IEDs and oil fires. In order to eliminate any ISIL presence completely from the villages on the outskirts of the city, they were carrying out street-by-street search operations.[107][108] The Peshmerga later paused their advance while the Iraqi Army continued its advance.[109]

Iraqi security forces transport combat equipment including M1A1 Abrams tanks and BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles to tactical assembly areas with assistance from the 313th Movement Control Battalion forward element, on 18 October 2016, near Makhmur, Iraq

Pro-government fighters in the south of Mosul were battling pockets of ISIL fighters and snipers as they tried to reclaim the village of Abbasi,[110] and expected to soon take control of the village of Zawiya.[111] Fighting resumed in the village of Kani Harami, which was captured by the Iraqi Army a day earlier but recaptured by ISIL on 18 October as the Army lacked reinforcements.[105] The Army also retook the village of Al-Hud on the Tigris, where villagers had risen up against ISIL and killed at least 9 militants.[112][113] State police also secured the Al-Mishraq sulfur plant south of Mosul.[114] The al-Shura district was stated by its mayor to have been captured by the Iraqi security forces.[115] Joint airstrikes by Iraqi and coalition warplanes on ISIL headquarters in Mosul destroyed 13 targets and killed 35 militants.[116]

As the Iraqi Army advanced on Mosul, rebellion against ISIL broke out in the city. The group's Islamic Police revolted and attacked four headquarters of the organisation. The revolt was put down with 7 rebellious leaders being killed and many militants being executed. A group of rebels attacked a headquarters of the group the next day, killed 2 militants and raised the Iraqi flag over the building. ISIL patrols in the city were also attacked.[117][118][119]

A group of Naqshabandi Army militants reportedly attacked an ISIL controlled checkpoint in the village of Al-Houd, injuring two ISIL militants before they were captured along with a few other militants who attacked a group of ISIL militants in the same village in coordination with the PMF on the day before. In total, 30 Naqshabandi militants were captured.[120]

19 October
Airmen assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare to load a Joint Direct Attack Munition onto an aircraft on 19 October as part of the U.S.-led airstrikes supporting the offensive.

The Iraqi army resumed fighting on 19 October, surrounding Qaraqosh with ISIL deploying snipers and car bombs.[121][122] Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Maliki declared that Iraqi forces had captured 13 villages north and northeast of Al Quwayr, south of Mosul. The Iraqi Army was also reported to be within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the outskirts of Mosul.[123] The village of Kani Harami was captured after heavy fighting in the morning with the militants retreating to Abbasiyah.[124] A total of 22 towns were reported to have been captured, with 12 by the Peshmerga and 10 by the ISF.[125] Nofal Hammadi, governor of the Nineveh Governorate, declared that 40% of the province had been retaken from ISIL.[126]

The offensive to retake the town of Bashiqa northeast of Mosul, originally scheduled for dawn, was delayed due to lack of logistical support.[127] Thousands of Peshmerga were reportedly preparing to retake Bashiqa.[128] The international coalition's commander Gary Voelsky also stated that a majority of ISIL leaders were fleeing Mosul and predicted foreign fighters will form the majority of militants remaining in the city.[129][130]

20 October

The fighting grew more intense on 20 October.[131] A large convoy of Golden Division arrived at positions retaken by the Peshmerga forces.[132] They also captured Bartella. ISIL fighters detonated 9 truck bombs during the fighting.[133] According to Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi of the Iraqi Army, 200 ISIL fighters were killed in the fight for Bartella.[131]

The Peshmerga also announced a "large-scale operation" to the north and northeast of Mosul, aiming to retake the Christian towns of Tesqopa and Bashiqa.[130][134] During the day, the Peshmerga liberated 6 villages, including 4 on the Bashiqa front line and 2 on the Nawaran front. In addition, they also entered another 4 villages. They briefly captured the village of Tiz Khirab but were forced to withdraw.[135] On the southern front, Iraqi forces resumed their push north after a brief pause[136] and recaptured six villages east of Qayyarah.[135]

A U.S. bomb disposal expert embedded with the Peshmerga was killed after the vehicle he was riding in drove over a roadside bomb.[137] ISIL also set Al-Mishraq sulfur plant on fire, causing two deaths and nearly 1,000 hospitalizations from sulfur fume inhalation.[138] An ISIL ambush near Bashiqa left dozens of Peshmerga dead or wounded.[136] The group was also reported to be digging trenches to slow the advancement of coalition troops.[139]

21 October

ISIL launched multiple attacks in Kirkuk on 21 October divert military resources. Multiple explosio/ref> On the southern front, Iraqi troops retook several villages near Qayyarah, including al-Sirt, Bajwaniya, al-Hud and al-Mashraf, and parts of the al-Hamdaniya District southeast of Mosul. Iraqi Federal Police also regained control of 56 oilfields in the Qayyarah district.ns and gun battles in the city, mostly centered on a government compound were reported. A suicide bomber killed 13 workers, including four Iranians, at a power plant in Dibis. A senior Peshmerga commander said that attackers had entered by posing as IDPs.[140] Iraqi government forces meanwhile reported that they had retaken 2 more villages south of Mosul and killed 15 militants.[141]

22 October

On 22 October, Iraqi police declared that ISIL's attack on Kirkuk had been repelled and all attackers had been killed or had blown themselves up.[142] Iraqi officials also stated that 80 people were killed in Kirkuk, primarily Kurdish security forces, and about 170 injured; 56 ISIL militants were also killed.[143] A reporter of Türkmeneli TV also died in the attack,[142] while at least seven journalists were injured.[144]

A large-scale offensive began to retake the Christian town of Qaraqosh which remained under ISIL control after several days of fighting.[145] Iraqi troops also advanced on the town of Tel Keppe, north of Mosul.[146] Shifting winds sent the gas from the ablaze Al Mishraq sulphur plant to Qayyarah Airfield West, where U.S. and coalition forces were forced to use gas masks.[142] A journalist was also killed by a sniper in the al-Shura area.[142]

Mosul Eye reported that ISIL had executed detainees and teens aged 15–18 comprised the majority of ISIL fighters in Mosul. The group was also reported to have planted bombs and booby traps throughout the city and was preparing for battle.[147]

23–24 October

The Peshmerga claimed on 23 October that they had recaptured Bashiqa,[148][149] however it was reported on the following day that they were still trying to capture it with the help of Turkish military.[150] The Peshmerga General Command also stated that Peshmerge had cordoned off 8 villages and had secured a significant stretch of the Bashiqa-Mosul highway. It also stated that they were now within 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) of the city.[151]

ISIL increased its counterattacks in order to distract the pro-government advancing towards Mosul. In addition to the attack on Kirkuk on 21 October, ISIL fighters struck Ar-Rutbah as well as Sinjar. Yazidi provincial chief Mahma Xelil said that at least 15 ISIL fighters were killed and two Peshmerga wounded in a two-hour battle in Sinjar. ISIL claimed its forces destroyed two Peshmerga vehicles, killing all on board.[152] Nearly 800 ISIL fighters had been killed while 78 villages were reported to have been retaken from the group as of 24 October.[153] The attack on Kirkuk was also brought to an end by 24 October, with 74 militants being killed and others including the leader of the attackers being arrested.[154]

25 October
U.S. Army and Iraqi military leaders discuss battle plans at Qayyarah Airfield West, 25 October.

Iraqi Special Operations Forces, advancing on Mosul from the east of the city, were reported to be within 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) of the city and were pausing to wait for reinforcements before proceeding.[155] Turkish military supporting the Peshmerga destroyed several ISIL targets in the Bashiqa region of Northern Iraq.[156][157] ISIL also used the burning oil trenches to impede the visibility of the Iraqi Air Force and international coalition air force and executed 9 deserters.[158]

26 October
A French Dassault Rafale is refueled from a KC-10 Extender on 26 October near Iraq. The French Air Force has 24 Rafale-Ms supporting the coalition forces.

Iraqi forces were met with heavy resistance from ISIL as they attempted to clear the militants from villages in Shora, south of Mosul.[159] Hundreds of ISIL suicide bombers were reported to have been sent from Syria to defend Mosul.[160]

Meanwhile, Peshmerga forces captured the village of Derk, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) northeast of Mosul, where they discovered a large ISIL tunnel containing a large cache of weapons.[161] Stephen Townsend, the commander of US forces in Iraq, stated that coalition forces had delivered more than 2,100 aerial bombs, artillery and mortar shells, rockets and missiles since the offensive to retake Mosul started. The Iraqi government stated that that 57 Iraqi soldiers had been killed and about 250 wounded while 20 to 30 Peshmerga fighters are thought to have been killed.[162]

27 October

Captain Fahd al-Laithi of Iraq's National Information Agency stated that 13 militants were killed in a coalition airstrike that targeted an IS concentration in the Hamam al-Alil district while Iraqi forces had managed to retake 2 villages to the south of Mosul.[163] The head of the United States Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel stated that 800-900 militants had been killed in the battle.[162]

28 October

U.S. military officials estimated on 28 October that were 3,000 to 5,000 ISIL fighters left defending Mosul while 1,500 to 2,000 militants were stationed outside the city.[164] Abdulrahman al Wagga, a member of Nineveh provincial council, stated that Iraqi forces had retaken the town of Al-Shura, to the south of Mosul and had evacuated 5,000 to 6,000 civilians from there. He further stated that the area was now being cleared of homemade bombs and booby traps while security forces had almost surrounded Hammam al-Alil.[165] He also stated Iraqi security forces might storm Hammam al-Alil in the next few hours but that it would depend on the situation on the ground, as civilians were still present amd ISIL militants were using a "scorched earth" policy by destroying houses, buildings and bridges to slow them down.[166]

Peshmerga and Iraqi forces also captured Fadiliya, which lies just 4 km away from Mosul.[167] UN meanwhile stated that ISIL had taken tens of thousands of civilians to use as human shields in Mosul, including at least 5,000 families from around Al-Shura and 2,210 families from the Nimrud area of Hamdaniya. Those who refused to go were executed[165][168]

29 October

The PMF stated on 29 October they had launched an offensive towards the west of Mosul with an aim to capture villages west of Mosul and reach the town of Tal Afar in order to prevent ISIL fighters from retreating into neighboring Syria or any reinforcement for their defense of Mosul. They have been tasked with recapturing around 14,000 km2 of territory from the group.[169][170][171] They also stated that they would not enter Mosul.[172] Meanwhile, Iraqi Army and PMF captured 15 villages from ISIL.[171]

Mosul Eye confirmed that civilians from outside Mosul had been abducted and forced into the city by ISIL which was confiscating homes from people for their own use. A new escape route from Mosul had been set up by Syrian Kurds, who were charging $3,000 per person to smuggle people out of the city to Turkey. The blog also reported that all bridges into the city were booby-trapped with IEDs.[173]

30 October

The Peshmerga stated on 30 October that they had captured six more villages to north and east of Mosul, and had seized control of several major roads and landmarks.[174] It also stated that it had captured 500 square kilometers of territory since the operation began.[175] PMF meanwhile stated that they had captured eight more villages to the southwest of Mosul.[176] SOHR stated that at least 480 Syrian fighters including 300 child soldiers (known as "Cubs of the Caliphate") brought to Iraq by ISIL had been killed since the offensive began.[177]

31 October
A U.S. soldier of the 101st Airborne Division and a member of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces discuss assessment of Iraqi security force checkpoints on 31 October at Qayyarah Airfield West.

On 31 October, a major Iraqi operation was launched on Bazwaya, to the east of Mosul. The ISOF came under heavy fire from ISIL but managed to capture the town along with several nearby villages.[178] After capturing Bazwaya, ISOF were less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Mosul.[179]

Several Iraqi military officials stated that ISOF will begin its push into Mosul shortly.[180][181][182] The U.S.-led coalition meanwhile aimed to target ISIL militants from the air if they attempted to flee the city. The US Department of Defense stated that hundreds of militants were believed to have already escaped.[183] Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi meanwhile called on ISIL fighters in Mosul to surrender.[179]

November: Entering East Mosul, reaching Tal Afar

1 November

The operation to enter the city began at dawn on 1 November. The forces began their assault in Mosul's eastern Karama district, with artillery, tank and machine-gun fire on ISIL positions as they prepared the larger push into the city.[184] Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were targeting ISIL positions, and ISIL had started tire fires to reduce visibility.[60]

Heavy fighting occurred in the Gogjali district, at the gate of the entrance to eastern Mosul, where ISIL militants used car bombs and sniper fire to try to halt the advance.[185] The Golden Division entered Mosul's city limits that afternoon, engaging in street fights with ISIL militants.[185] Shortly after, the Iraqi Army announced that they had captured Mosul's state television building on the city's left bank.[186][187] The Gogjali district was reported to be under Iraqi control by the evening, while Iraqi Army's 9th Division and the 3rd Brigade had entered the neighborhood of Judaydat al-Mufti on the left bank of Mosul. Near midnight, the Iraqi war media office reported that airstrikes had killed 116 militants inside Mosul including 29 in Ghabat, 10 at an ISIL headquarters, 10 at a weapons depot and 67 at a hotel pool. They also stated that Iraqi forces suffered no casualties.[185][188] Meanwhile, Iraqi forces captured 2 villages on the northern front.[185]

Brigadier Saad Maan, the spokesperson of Iraq’s Interior Ministry, stated that the plan of the joint command in Nineveh was going faster than the Army had planned.[189] In the western front, at least fifteen PMU fighters were killed when they entered abandoned villages booby-trapped with explosives.[190] ISIL also executed fifty deserters in Mosul.[191]

2 November

On 2 November, ISOF continued fighting remaining ISIL fighters in the eastern section of Gogjali.[192] Iraqi Brigadier General Haider Fadhil said his troops were forced to hold their positions in eastern Mosul as poor weather conditions were limiting visibility for drones and aircraft, and preventing them from advancing.[193] Meanwhile, eight militants were killed in Mosul by Iraqi forces.[194]

The PMU announced that it had captured 115 km² that day after fierce fighting with ISIL, including six villages, and had surrounded three ISIL-held villages. They also claimed that they had reached a highway to the southwest of Mosul and had cut the first supply line to Mosul from Raqqa.[192] The Iraqi Army in the southern front launched an offensive in the morning to recapture Hamam al-Alil and engaged in heavy fighting with the group.[195] Meanwhile, Iraqi Federal Police captured two villages in the south.[192]

3 November

ISIL released an audio file purportedly from their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he said he was "confident of victory" in Mosul, and urged ISIL fighters not to retreat.[196]

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division was reported to have entered the neighborhood of al-Intisar in eastern Mosul.[197] while Mosul's Fifth Bridge, located over the Tigris river, was destroyed by airstrikes.[198]

U.S. and Iraqi authorities stated the offensive was "ahead of schedule" while Brigadier Saad Maan stated that the priority of protecting civilian lives and infrastructure would possibly slow their advance into the city.[199]

4 November

The Iraqi Army recaptured six districts in Mosul, including the eastern district of al-Zahra of which they claimed to have captured 90%. They were also forced to withdraw from Karama district because of heavy resistance.[200] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to be abducting Mosul's boys to use as child soldiers.[191]

5 November

Fighting continued in the morning, with clashes most intense in the neighborhood of al-Bakr.[201] The eastern neighborhoods of Kirkukli and al-Zahra in the east and Al-Tahrir in the north-east were under Iraqi control while the southern neighborhoods of Qudes and Karama reportedly remained under ISIL control.[202] Fighting resumed in the Gogjali district, after militants emerged via tunnels during the night.[203]

CNN's Arwa Damon, who was embedded with ISOF in Mosul, reported being trapped for 28 hours near the neighborhoods of Kirkukli and Khadraa after an ambush on their military convoy forced them to run into buildings for cover and hide among civilians. Despite multiple soldiers being injured, backup forces were unable to assist as they were also under attack.[204]

ISIL claimed it had killed fifteen Iraqi soldiers and destroyed six military vehicles.[202] Meanwhile, satellite images released by private U.S. firm Stratfor revealed ISIL had installed defenses including rubble blocking main routes to the city center, rows of concrete barricades, and earthen berms. The images also showed evidence that ISIL had leveled buildings and cleared the terrain around a former military base on the west bank and around the Mosul International Airport.[201]

The Iraqi army continued its assault on three fronts to Hamam al-Alil.[202] In the early afternoon, Iraqi forces entered the town center with heavy clashes continuing. ISIL fighters were reportedly traveling by motorcycle to avoid airstrikes. During the night, Hamam al-Alil was reported to have been retaken by Iraqi forces.[203]

6 November

On 6 November, Iraqi forces in southwestern front stated that they are 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Mosul International Airport after taking control of Hamam al-Alil the previous day.[205] They also stormed the Al-Sada district, their first entrance into northern Mosul.[206] The Iraq War Media Office announced that Abu Hamza al-Ansari, a key ISIL leader from Algeria, was killed in southern Mosul during clashes with the Iraqi Army's 15th Division.[21]

Blogger Mosul Eye reported that ISIL had begun installing bombs around residential buildings.[207] Meanwhile, a Kurdish official stated that three militants had been killed in an uprising by civilians in eastern Mosul.[21]

7 November

The Peshmerga, backed by coalition airstrikes, launched an offensive from three fronts in the morning to take the town of Bashiqa, which was still held by ISIL and had been surrounded for about two weeks.[208] About 100 to 200 ISIL militants were estimated to be left in the town.[209] In the early afternoon, the t/ref> Iraqi troops also advanced on the town of Tel Keppe, north of Mosul.own was reported to be fully under Peshmerga control, though ISIL pockets remained.[208]

On the southern front, Hamam al-Alil, which had been reported to be under Iraqi control two days earlier, was fully captured by pro-government forces.[210] In eastern Mosul, the ISOF surrounded the neighborhoods of Karama, Malayyin al-Salasa, Shquq Khazraa, Zahra, Karkuli, Aden, and Zahabi. The Iraqi Army's 9th armored division and the 3rd Brigade liberated the village of Manarat Shabak east of the city, and made an incursion into the eastern Mosul neighborhoods of Hay Intisar, Judaydah al-Mufti, and Hay Shaima. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Federal Police captured two villages near Hammam Al-Alil.[208]

8 November

The Peshmerga killed twelve ISIL fighters trying to flee Bashiqa.[211] In the western front, PMU forces were reported to have advanced to a distance of 25 km towards strategically important Tal Afar military air base, south of the city.[212] CJTF–OIR also stated it had carried out an airstrike on an ISIL headquarters building near Tal Afar.[213] ISIL senior commander Mahmoud Shukri al-Nuaimi was also reported to have been killed in a coalition airstrike in western Mosul.[22]

9 November

ISOF captured majority of the Intisar district in southern Mosul while ISIL had reportedly deployed armed child soldiers in Mosul.[214] Aid agencies were unable to reach Mosul's neighborhoods retaken by Iraqi forces because of the danger of boobytraps and snipers.[215]

10 November

In eastern Mosul, the Golden Division (controlling Zahra district and at least half of Aden district where clashes were ongoing) as well as elements of the 9th division (controlling Intisar district) were reported to be regrouping and clearing neighborhoods once occupied by ISIL, as well as screening residents fleeing from Mosul for any militants hiding among them.[216] On the southern front, pro-government forces advanced towards the ancient city of Nimrud.[217] Iraqi officials announced that the new ISIL war official, Khaled al-Mitwiti, had been killed,[218] while the Abbas Rajab village was captured by Iraqi forces.[219]

11 November

On the southern front, Iraqi forces were preparing to advance up the western bank of the Tigris River toward Mosul International Airport.[220] In eastern Mosul, Iraqi forces launched a new offensive to regain control of the neighborhood of Karkukli.[221] Iraqi anti-terror units were reported to have entered the Qadesiyya neighborhood.[222]

12 November

On 12 November, heavy clashes were reported in the al-Salam neighborhood of east Mosul.[223] Iraqi Army announced that it had captured al-Arbajiya district and was clearing the adjacent al-Qadisiya al-Thaniya district.[224] They also reached Palestine neighborhood in southeast Mosul and were engaged in battle with ISIL in the Quds neighborhood.[223] The PMU announced that the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ) as its part, had started the operation to capture villages around Sinjar from ISIL.[225]

After a number of its senior leaders were killed by a coalition air strike in east Mosul, ISIL imposed a curfew in the city.[226] A local source also stated that the group was evacuating families of its fighters from west to east Mosul, denoting a severe collapse of defenses on the western front.[227] Its fighters were meanwhile using drones for surveillance as well as suicide bombers and snipers against the Iraqi Army.[223]

13 November

On 13 November, Iraqi forces recaptured the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud as well as the adjacent modern town.[228][229] Iraqi forces meanwhile captured the Karkojli neighborhood in eastern Mosul.[230] Brig. Gen. Maan al Saadi, the commander of the 2nd Group of ISOF, stated ISIL was collapsing and losing control, with Iraqi forces now only two days away from seizing a neighborhood where they planned to fight for four days.[231]

14 November

On 14 November, thirty ISIL fighters, including senior leaders, were killed as PMU forces captured the village of al-Abbas.[232] They also captured two more villages, and stated ISIL received severe human and material losses.[233] Meanwhile, twenty militants were killed in airstrikes by the Iraqi air Force.[234]

Pro-government forces on the southern front captured the village of Bo Youssef and were 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Mosul airport.[232] ISIL meanwhile launched three attacks using rockets filled with mustard gas on Qayyarah, causing seven casualties.[235]

15 November

On 15 November, 49 militants were killed in airstrikes by the United States Air Force on the al-Bakr neighborhood of Mosul.[236] Troops of the Golden Division meanwhile began storming areas in northern and eastern Mosul, including the neighborhoods of al-Akhaa, al-Bakr and al-Hadbaa. Two car bombs were destroyed while three suicide bombers were killed.[237] On the Western front, the Badr Organization announced that it had captured two villages and advanced 10 kilometers in the western axis of the offensive.[238]

16 November

On 16 November, fourteen civilians were killed by ISIL in the al-Zahraa neighborhood under government control.[239] On the southern front, the 9th Division captured Tal Akoub village,[240] reaching Hayy al-Salam and advancing towards the 4th Bridge. ISIL meanwhile withdrew from Hayy Albu Saif and al-Ghazlani, near the southern entrance of Mosul, as the Federal Police advanced on them. The counter-terrorism forces were also 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) from Mosul's center and were in control of the Hayy al-Bakr area.[241]

PMF meanwhile took control of Tal Afar military airbase west of the city Mosul, killing a large number of ISIL fighters in the process.[242][243]

18 November

On 18 November, in the West, PMF were securing and clearing Tal Afar military airbase, which they had captured from ISIL two days earlier, and preparing the assault on the city proper.[244] In the vicinity, they were attacking further villages, in an area infamous for Sunni Islamist militancy and outstanding support for ISIL among the population.[245] PMF control had already been established in over 16 villages in the surrounding area, during preceding days.[246]

20 November

The Anti-Terrorism Directorate said in a statement aired by the state-owned television that the Anti-Terrorism forces managed to liberate the areas of Hayy Adan, al-Akhaa and the water project in Mosul, within the eastern axis of Nineveh liberation operations. The Wali of Islamic State in Hayy Adan, Marwan Hamed Saleh al-Hayali, was killed.[247]

To the West, Iraqi army troops arrived on the outskirts of Tal Afar to reinforce PMF and were preparing to retake the town.[248]

21 November

Elements of the 9th division of the Iraqi army captured the village of al-Sallamiya, in the eastern section of Mosul. Meanwhile, PMF reported taking control of al-Ulamaa district after killing multiple ISIS militants.[249]

22 November
Infographic of Mosul control lines (around 22 November 2016).

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadel of the Iraqi special forces told The Associated Press that IS fighters were targeting his forces with rockets and mortars as they slowly advanced in the densely populated Zohour neighborhood. "We are cautiously advancing. There are too many civilians still living there," he said.[250]

"This effort impedes Daesh's freedom of movement in Mosul. It inhibits their ability to resupply or reinforce their fighters throughout the city," An official said using an Arabic acronym for the militant group.[251]

23 November

On 23 November, PMF reported cutting the road between Sinjar and Tal Afar, their Shia component groups advancing from the South linking up with the Sinjar Resistance Units and Êzîdxan Women's Units to the North, thus completing the encirclement of the Mosul pocket.[252]

25 November

Iraqi Federal Police said that fifty IS militants were killed and 32 others were arrested. The operations have also resulted in the destruction of four barracks.[253]

30 November

On 30 November, PMF said they captured 12 villages from ISIL in the Tal Afar area over the past five days.[254]

At the end of November, the Iraqi military assessed that it had taken control of 19 neighbourhoods in eastern Mosul during the month, constituting somewhat less than 30 percent of the area of Mosul east of the Tigris.[255] While the "Golden Division" Special Operations Forces have persistently advanced into East Mosul, the 9th Division has taken one neighbourhood in the southeast, the 16th Division has not yet breached Mosul city limits from the north, and the 15th Division, advancing from the southwest, is still several kilometres away from the western Mosul.[256]

Humanitarian issues

Up to 1.5 million civilians live in the city, sparking serious concerns of a massive humanitarian crisis.[257] Lise Grande, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, stated, "In a worst-case scenario, we're literally looking at the single largest humanitarian operation in the world in 2016."[257] Save the Children warned that massive civilian bloodshed was likely unless safe routes were allowed to let civilians flee.[258] The U.S. government has accused ISIL of using Mosul civilians as human shields.

ISIL abuses and abductions

Fears that civilians could be used as human shields by ISIL were realized as it was confirmed the group had been abducting civilians from villages for this purpose, which received widespread condemnation from human rights groups and the United Nations Security Council.[259][260]

ISIL has reportedly threatened to execute civilians trying to flee. Snipers, landmines and trenches are preventing people from attempting to escape.[59] Iraqi officials, via radio broadcasts and leaflets dropped over the city, warned civilians to stay in their homes. Leaflets advised residents of various precautions to take including instructions to tape over their windows to protect from flying glass and to disconnect gas pipes.[65][261]

Shortly after the battle began, news surfaced of ISIL kidnapping and executing civilians in Mosul. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis stated that ISIL was using civilians as human shields and holding people against their will in the city.[262]

The International Business Times reported that ISIL has forced boys from Mosul as young as 12 to fight for it, and that ISIL had trained the children to "behead prisoners and make suicide bombs."[263]

An Iraqi intelligence source stated on 21 October that ISIL executed 284 men and boys abducted from Mosul for the purpose of using them as human shields. The civilians were shot and put in a mass grave. A United Nations official said the UN is "gravely worried" about the fate of 200 families from Samalia and 350 families from Najafia who were abducted Monday by ISIL, who could be used as human shields.[264]

UN sources stated that four people died from inhaling toxic fumes after ISIL set fire to the Al-Mishraq Chemical Factory on 23 October.[265]

On 26 October, CNN reported that ISIL has been carrying out "retribution killings" of civilians as revenge for others welcoming Iraqi and Peshmerga troops in liberated villages.[160]

According to Ravina Shamdasani, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, ISIL executed 232 people near Mosul in late October for defying its orders and had taken tens of thousands of people to use as human shields against advancing Iraqi forces. She claimed that ISIL "executed 42 civilians in Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul. Also on Wednesday ISIL executed 190 former Iraqi Security Forces for refusing to join them, in the Al Ghazlani base near Mosul."[166]

Iraqi forces evacuated more than 1,000 civilians from the front lines surrounding Mosul on 26 October, moving them to the Khazir region.[266] Civilians on the southern front had reported that their relatives had been taken by retreating ISIL fighters to be used as human shields.[159]

In October 2016, Iraqi government has launched a military operation in Mosul to eject ISIL. Based on reports provided by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, more than million residents in Mosul are at risk and many of them were killed or used as human shields against the advance of Iraqi army. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor warns that Iraqi government and international forces have to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Mosul and provide its residents with their basic needs. ISIL has driven some of Mosul’s residents out of their neighborhoods while others were prevented from fleeing to the regions controlled by Iraqi army. Human rights are violated by both ISIL, which drove about 550 families from the villages of As-Semalyya and An-Nejafyya, and Iraqi troops which captured 1,500 civilians from mosques and schools in the Dybka refugee camp. On 21 October 2016, Another human rights violation committed by Iraqi army and police as they arrested almost hundreds of civilians and executing some villagers in the south of Mosul claiming that they are hosting ISIL militias. On the same day, Iraqi airstrikes targeted a funeral in Kirkuk province causing death of 20 people and injuring dozens others. Mosul's population reached to 1.5 million people, including 600,000 children who are besieged by ISIL militias and suffering from the shortage of food, water, electricity and medical care. ISIL militias monopolize the local hospitals in Mosul and Al-Hemdanyya District to treat only its supporters and members. About 690 families have been evacuated from the Makhmoor District east of Mosul and Al-Hemdanyya District to the Al- Hood camp.[267]

On 31 October, a member of the Nineveh Provincial Council stated that that ISIL executed 300 civilians and former security members in the village of Moshairefa, north of Mosul. They had been imprisoned and accused of collaborating with the government.[268]

Mosul Eye reported on 3 November that mortar strikes killed five civilians in Mosul.[269]

Two roadside bombs struck a convoy of civilians fleeing Hawija on 4 November as the families were being taken to the town of Al-Alam. At least 18 people were killed, a police officer said.[270]

On 7 November, the Iraqi War Media Office announced that the bodies of estimated 300 people were found in a mass grave at the agriculture college in Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul. Many had been decapitated. Iraqi forces made the discovery after noticing the smell. Abdul Rahman al-Waggaa, a member of the Nineveh provincial council, said ISIL had used the college as "a killing field."[271][272] The Iraqi War Media Office said there would be an investigation into the murders: "Inside the building of the Faculty of Agriculture there is a new crime: the presence of 100 beheaded bodies of citizens killed by terrorists, and a special team will be sent to inspect this heinous crime," the office said in a statement.[208]

The United Nations reported on 8 November that ISIL had abducted 295 former Iraqi Security Forces members and 1,500 families from Hamam al-Alil, forcing them to retreat with the militants into Mosul.[273]

On 9 November, it was reported that ISIL killed at least 20 civilians after accusing them of being spies. Five crucified bodies were displayed at a traffic intersection, while others were left hanging from traffic signals and electricity poles.[274] Civilians who had fled the city in the past few days reported that ISIL was using suicide bombs to attack residents in addition to Iraqi forces.[275]

BBC News reported on 11 November that ISIL executed 40 civilians in Mosul after accusing them of being spies. One man was killed for defying the ban on mobile phone use. They were shot and their bodies displayed around the city.[276]

The U.N. Office of Human Rights provided new details that ISIL is using chemical weapons and has stockpiled "large quantities" of ammonia and sulfur. "We can only speculate how they intend to use this," U.N. spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said. "We are simply raising the alarm that this is happening, that this is being stockpiled."[277]

On 17 November, Iraqi forces found two more mass graves near Hamam Alil, containing at least 250 bodies. One of the graves was inside a well. "We believe the well contains more than 200 bodies. ISIS used this mass grave to kill and dump people over the past two years," Iraqi Federal Police Commander Brig. Gen. Faris Radhi Abbas told CNN.[278]

Allegations against anti-ISIL forces

On 17 October, the Iraqi central government and KRG authorities launched a military operation to retake Mosul city captured by ISIL in June 2014. In response, ISIL assaulted numbers of buildings and police stations in Kurdish areas, located in the southeast of Mosul, causing death of 100 security force members and civilians. Kurdish authorities are attacking and ejecting Arabs living in Kirkuk into the streets or unsafe areas in order to take revenge on ISIL, which attacked the city on 21 October 2016. On 23 October, the security committee of Kirkuk Governorate has declared that people who live in Kirkuk but were not in camps, have to leave the city or move into a camp for displaced people.

On 23 and 24 October the Kurdish authorities forced 325 families to leave their homes and destroyed about 100 homes in southern Kirkuk. On 25 October, Kurdish bulldozers and excavators demolished dozens of homes, and displaced families from Hawija living in five homes to leave Kirkuk, which is mostly residential. More than 12,000 were expelled by Kurdish forces to live in unsafe conditions in Kirkuk.[279]

The presence of several militias with histories of human rights abuses was criticized; Human Rights Watch called for Shia militias from the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to not enter Mosul, following allegations of severe abuse of Sunni Muslims in anti-ISIL operations in Fallujah, Tikrit and Amirli.[280][281][282] Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi later stated that only the Iraqi army and the Iraqi national police will enter the city itself.[57][283]

On 21 October, International Business Times reported that "disturbing and graphic footage posted to social media allegedly shows Iraqi security forces torturing and interrogating young children for information about ISIL as they attempt to retake Mosul from the Islamic State terror group."[284]

On 11 November, video emerged of the Iraqi army apparently torturing and murdering an Iraqi child. The boy, identified as Muhammad Ali Al-Hadidi, was dragged through the desert and shot dead before a tank was driven over him. The men in the video were identified as Shia and yelled sectarian slurs at the child, a Sunni. The video caused extreme outrage on social media, with Arabic speakers using the hashtag #CrushedByATank (Arabic: #السحق_بالدبابة). The soldiers were wearing the insignia of the Iraqi Special Forces.[285]

Displacements and relief efforts

Italian Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, arrived in Erbil on 17 October to meet with Kurdish officials.[286] The UN has set up five refugee camps capable of taking up to 45,000 people and has the capability of taking in up to 120,000 if more sites are available for camps.[287] Dozens of families from Mosul arrived in the Al-Hawl camp in Rojava, Northern Syria, bringing the number of Iraqis in al-Hawl to more than 6,000. On 18 October, more than 2,000 refugees from Mosul were attempting to cross into Syria, according to the People's Defense Units (YPG).[105] The UN is attempting to communicate with citizens inside Mosul that they should not flee to the West of the city toward Syria, an area still under ISIL control, but to the camps in the east.[288]

Australia announced it would donate USD$7.5 million in humanitarian aid to the operation, and New Zealand pledged NZ$1 million (USD$718,600).[289]

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had trained 90 Iraqi medics in "mass casualty management" as part of its preparations for the Mosul operation, with a special focus on responding to chemical attacks, AP reported. ISIL has previously used chemical weapons in attacks on Iraqi and coalition forces, and there are fears that it might do so again inside Mosul, where more than a million civilians live.[290]

On 3 November, Kurdish and UN aid workers said more than 40,000 refugees had fled to Kurdistan in the first few weeks of fighting. Ten new refugee camps have been built in the Dohuk Governorate, Erbil Governorate and in the town of Khazir.[291] According to the United Nations and UNICEF, 22,000 people had been displaced, including more than 9,000 children.[292]

On 6 November, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that 33,996 people had been displaced from the Mosul District. 63 percent of families are missing civil documentation and 21 percent of families are headed by a female. The previous 48 hours saw a 53 percent increase in displacement.[49] The following day, WHO announced it had established 82 "rapid response teams" to prepare for possible concerns among civilians fleeing Mosul, including health epidemics such as cholera, and exposure to chemicals and smoke from burning oil wells.[293] A particular concern is potential disease outbreaks among young children who have not been immunized since ISIL took over the city in June 2014.[294]

More than 900 Iraqi civilians have fled to the Al-Hawl refugee camp located in the Rojava region of northeastern Syria, while another 700 civilians run away to the Turkish-Iraqi borders.[295]


International reactions

Jean-Marc Ayrault, France's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said on 27 October, "We know that we will face significant challenges and it is our responsibility to face them together, alongside Iraq, while fully respecting its independence and sovereignty."[296]
President Vladimir Putin on 17 October said: "We hope that our American partners, and in this case our French partners as well, will act selectively and do everything to minimise — and even better, to rule out — civilian casualties."[297]
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted, as of now without success, on a Turkish role in the battle for Mosul (see Turkish involvement below). On 26 October, Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said "Fighting ISIL is necessary, but the process after ISIL must be planned carefully."[298]
 United States
President Barack Obama said on 18 October, "Mosul will be a difficult fight and there will be advances and setbacks I am confident, just as ISIL has been defeated in communities across Iraq, ISIL will be defeated in Mosul as well, and that will be another step toward their ultimate destruction." Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on 16 October said in a statement,[299] "This is a decisive moment in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat."[300]

Media coverage and social media

Several media outlets including Al Jazeera and Channel 4 live streamed the first day's battle on Facebook, a first in war coverage.[301][302][303] Additional live video feeds were available on YouTube and the streaming app Periscope. Iraqi and Kurdish officials are also joining in on social media using the hashtag #FreeMosul.[304] Brendan Gauthier, assistant editor of Salon, noted that given ISIL's slick campaigns on social media, "It's only appropriate then that the Iraqi military’s effort to reclaim Mosul from the PR machine turned extremist group be live-streamed."[305]

On 17 October, several Iraqi media outlets established the National Media Alliance to support journalists reporting on the battle. The groups include both government-run and private media, including Al Iraqiya and Al Sumaria. The alliance provides technical and journalistic services, including a joint operations newsroom. It was formed to counter ISIL propaganda and foster cooperation among the various media groups in order to reduce chaos and improve safety. Journalist Walid al-Tai told Al-Monitor, "One of the reasons behind the establishment of the alliance is to avoid any chaotic media coverage of the battle as every media and military institution is sending its correspondents to battlefronts. This leads to conflict in the coverage of the fighting and a greater number of casualties among journalists."[306]

Journalist Mustafa Habib reported that Iraqi citizens are coordinating efforts on Facebook and Twitter to counter ISIL propaganda, such as fake photos and videos, that may be used to intimidate locals in Mosul. A communications department of a Shia militia also announced it would be contributing to a social media campaign, and that 500 Iraqi journalists were embedded with the militias surrounding Mosul to report updates.[307]

On 27 October 2016, The New Yorker's Robin Wright interviewed the anonymous self-described historian Mosul Eye, a purported Mosuli who has blogged from the city about life in Mosul under ISIL despite death threats from the group. Responding to Wright's questions, Mosul Eye estimated the size and make-up of ISIL's force in Mosul, hopes for the future ("gain back power over the city" with help of "an international trusteeship to protect Mosul"), and the level of support for ISIL inside Mosul ("There is no support for ISIL in Mosul. They are left only with weapons that they will use to kill themselves once the liberating forces make the decision to raid the city.").[75]

Turkish desire of involvement

The involvement of Turkey in the operation has considerably strained its relations with Iraq.[8] Turkey has 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers in Iraq,[308] including 500 Turkish soldiers deployed to a base near Bashiqa, where they trained 1,500 Iraqi Sunni volunteers, mainly Turkmens, and Arabs to recapture Mosul from ISIL.[309][310] Turkey's participation is against the wishes of the Iraqi government, which has said the Turks are violating Iraq's sovereignty. Turkey has refused to withdraw its forces.[8] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on 1 October, "We will play a role in the Mosul liberation operation and no one can prevent us from participating,"[311] and said their presence was to ensure that Mosul did not fall to Kurdish or Shia control and become a threat to Turkey.[312][313] Turkey's presence was criticized by Kurds in northern Iraq,[314] and thousands of protestors demonstrated at the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad on 18 October, demanding Turkish forces withdraw from Iraq.[315] The United States has reportedly attempted to persuade Iraq to cooperate with Turkey on the Mosul offensive.[316] Al-Abadi declined the offer of Turkish assistance, saying, "I know that the Turks want to participate. We tell them thank you, this is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul and the rest of the territories."[317] However, on 23 October, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım announced Turkish troops had fired on ISIL positions near Mosul after requests for assistance from the Peshmerga.[8]

The situation between Turkey and Iraq escalated on 1 November, the day Iraqi forces entered Mosul. Turkey announced it was sending tanks and artillery from Ankara to Silopi near the Iraqi border. Turkey's Minister of Defense Fikri Işık said the deployment was a move to "prepare for "important developments" in the region and be ready for any possible scenario" and stated that "further action can be taken if Turkey's red lines are crossed" warning Shi'ite militias and PKK not to "terrorize" and take hold of Iraqi Turkmen-majority regions in the area.[318][319][320] Prime Minister Al-Abadi warned Turkey not to "invade" Iraq, predicting war if they did. Al-Abadi, addressing journalists in Baghdad, said, "We warn Turkey if they want to enter Iraq, they will end up becoming fragmented... We do not want to fight Turkey. We do not want a confrontation with Turkey. God forbid, even if we engage in war with them, the Turks will pay a heavy price. They will be damaged. Yes, we too will be damaged, but whenever a country fights a neighboring country, there will be no winner, both will end up losing."[321]

On 7 November, Iraq rejected Turkey’s proposal to continue running the Bashiqa military camp, no matter if it were formally transferred under the auspices of the coalition forces, and suggested that Turkey hand over control of the camp to Iraq’s central government.[322]

See also


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Coordinates: 35°48′01″N 43°17′23″E / 35.8003°N 43.2897°E / 35.8003; 43.2897

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