Battle of Mosul (2016–17)

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For other uses, see Battle of Mosul.
Battle of Mosul (2016–)
Part of the Iraqi Civil War and
the American-led intervention in Iraq
Battle of Mosul (2016–2017).svg
A cartographic depiction of the current situation in Mosul, as of February 24, 2017.      Iraqi Government control     ISIL control     Peshmerga control
Date 16 October 2016 – present
(4 months, 1 week and 5 days)
Location Iraq
Status Ongoing
  • The ISF completely capture eastern Mosul by 24 January 2017.[9]
  • As of 3 December 2016, the ISF and Peshmerga have captured a total of 5,677 square kilometres (2,192 sq mi) and 369 villages from ISIL.[10][11][12][13]

Iraq Iraq
Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan
(until November 2016)
Supported by:


Iraqi Ba'ath Party Loyalists[8]
 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
Commanders and leaders

Haidar al-Abadi
(Prime Minister of Iraq)
Iraq Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah
(commander of the operation)
Iraq Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati al-Kenan
(Joint Military Command, ICTS)
Iraq Maj. Gen. Fadhil Jalil al-Barwari
(ISOF commander)
Popular Mobilization Forces (Iraq) logo vector.svg Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis[14]
(Head of the PMF)
Iraqi Kurdistan Massoud Barzani
(President of Iraqi Kurdistan)
United States Barack Obama
(President of the United States, until January 20, 2017)
United States Donald Trump
(President of the United States, since January 20, 2017)
United States Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
(CJTF-OIR commander)
Muhammad Kawarithmi[7]
(Hezbollah commander of Iraqi operations)

Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri[8]
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 Minister of Media)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Izzam [16]
(ISIL Oil Minister)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Omran Abu Mariam[17]
(ISIL War Council leader)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Haqqi Esmaeil Owaid [18]
(a.k.a. Abu Ahmed; ISIL Governor of Mosul)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Marwan Hamid Salih al-Hayali [19]
(Local wali of ISIL)

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu As’ad al-Iraqi[20]
(ISIL Emir of Tal Afar)

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Aziz Ali [21]
(Senior commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Hudhaifa  (Prominent ISIL leader)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Aymam al-Mosuli [22]
(Commander of the special security forces)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Faruq [23]
(Commander of Bashiqa)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Yakoub [24]
(Operations official)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Hamza al-Ansari [25]
(Senior leader)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Mahmoud Shukri al-Nuaimi [26]
(a.k.a. Sheikh Faris; Senior commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Falah al-Rashidi [27]
(ISIL vehicle suicide bomb leader)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Turq 
(ISIL financial facilitator)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Abdulrahman [28]
(ISIL executioner)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abbas Suleiman Ismail AlHaider [29]
(a.k.a. Abu Aesha; ISIL foreigners recruiter)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Dur al-Tunsi[30]
(Military commander; deserted)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Bilal al-Shawash[30]
(Military commander; deserted)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr el Sheshani [31]
(ISIL military official in Nineveh Governorate)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Fatma el Tounsi [31]
(ISIL's financial official in Nineveh Governorate)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Maha 
(ISIL's intelligence affairs official)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Salah Hassan el Sakalawi (a.k.a. Dr. Abdullah) [31]
(ISIL health minister)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Hassan el Homosi [31]
(ISIL's emir of health in Wilayat al Sham)
Units involved
See Order of battle See Order of battle

Iraq 54,000–60,000 ISF troops[32][33]
14,000 paramilitary troops[32]
Iraqi Kurdistan 40,000 Peshmerga troops[32]
Total: 108,500–114,000 fighters[34]

450 CJTF–OIR personnel[35]
4,500–12,000 militants
(1,000 foreigners)[36][37][38]
Casualties and losses

Iraq Iraqi Kurdistan 1,000–2,000 killed (per UN)[39][40]
United States 1 killed[41]

Iraq Iraqi Kurdistan 6,500 killed,
800+ vehicles destroyed and 21 drones downed
(ISIL claim)[42][43]
2,000+ killed or wounded
(U.S. claim)[44]
4,900 killed
(Iraqi claim)[45][46]
1,000+ civilians killed[39]
163,896 civilians displaced[47][48]

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).[49][50][51] The offensive, dubbed Operation "We Are Coming, Nineveh" (قادمون يا نينوى; Qadimun Ya Naynawa),[52][53] began on 16 October 2016, with forces besieging ISIL-controlled areas in the Nineveh Governorate surrounding Mosul.[54][55][56] The battle for Mosul is considered key in the military intervention against ISIL, which seized the city in June 2014.[57] Outnumbering ISIL forces 10 to 1, it is the largest deployment of Iraqi troops since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[58]

The operation follows the Mosul offensives in 2015 and 2016. The offensive began with Iraqi troops and Peshmerga fighters engaging ISIL on three fronts outside Mosul, going from 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.[59] Met with fierce fighting, the government advance into the city was slowed by elaborate defenses – including road blocks, booby traps, suicide bombers and snipers – and by the presence of civilians.[60]

The Battle of Mosul is concurrent with the Battle of Sirte (2016) in Libya, the Battle of al-Bab between ISIL and the Turkish-led Syrian rebels, and the Raqqa offensive by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on ISIL's capital city and stronghold in Syria.[61]


Map of the territorial control during the 2016 Mosul offensive, as of August 2016

General background

Mosul is Iraq's second most populous city. It fell to 800–1,300+ 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][62] 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.[62] 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, all of whom have suffered and continue to suffer considerably under the (majority Sunni Arab) Islamic State.[63] Mosul remains the last stronghold of ISIL in Iraq,[64] and the anticipated offensive to reclaim it was promoted as the "mother of all battles".[65][66][67][68]

Preparations for the battle

Main article: Mosul offensive (2016)

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.[58] 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.[69] Leaflets dropped on the city by the Iraqi military advised young male residents to "rise up" against ISIL when the battle began.[64] 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[58] and slow advances.[33] 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.[70] There was considerable concern that ISIL might employ chemical weapons against soldiers and civilians.[71]

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).[72]

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 city, according to the United States Department of Defense.[73] Other estimates ranged as low as 2,000 and high as 12,000 ISIL fighters.[36][38] Mosul Eye estimated approximately 8,000–9,000 fighters loyal to ISIL, with "[h]alf of them... highly trained, and the rest... either teenagers 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."[74] Prior to the start of the battle, in late September 2016, it was estimated that around 20,000 ISIL fighters were living in Mosul,[75] many of whom later fled the city to Syria and Ar-Raqqah, when Iraqi forces began to besiege the Mosul.

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;[34] 54,000 to 60,000 Iraqi security forces (ISF) soldiers, 16,000 Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fighters (also referred to as PMU), and 40,000 Peshmerga (including approximately 200 Iranian Kurdish female fighters from the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK))[77] are deployed in the battle.[32][33]

Among the PMF units, the Nineveh Plain Protection Units composed of Assyrians are among the paramilitary forces in the government coalition.[78][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.[80][81] The Ezidi community of the Sinjar region contributed the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ) and Êzîdxan Women's Units (YJÊ),[82] which are operating in concert with Sunni Arab Shammar tribal militias and People's Defence Forces (HPG) of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).[83] Other Assyrian forces involved in the planned offensive includes the Nineveh Plain Forces (NPF) and Dwekh Nawsha, who are allied to the Peshmerga.[84][85]

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.[86] The international coalition forces are headquartered 60 kilometres (37 mi) south of Mosul at Qayyarah Airfield West (or Q-West) in Qayyarah, which was retaken from ISIL in June.[87] 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.[88] 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.[89] An additional 150 French soldiers are in Erbil, east of Mosul, training Peshmerga.[81] 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 United Arab Emirates (UAE).[90][91] 80 Australian special forces soldiers and 210 Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (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 Peshmerga casualties.[92][93]

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 start an uprising against ISIL and announced that they will fight the "terrorist organization."[94][95]

Timeline of the battle


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.[56] Officials reported howitzers firing on ISIL targets later that day.[54] The main assault began on 17 October at approximately 6am[64] with shelling and arrival of armored vehicles to the front lines.[96] 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.[97] Iraqi troops advanced on the Bartella area east of Mosul while ISIL fighters fired mortars at Peshmerga.[98] The President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, said that Peshmerga and Iraqi government fighters retook 200 square kilometers (80 square miles) from ISIL on the first day of fighting.[99] Iraqi government 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 wounded in the battle were reported to have been bussed towards its Syrian headquarters of Raqqa for medical aid.[32] The anti-ISIL coalition destroyed 52 targets during the day.[100] 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.[101] ISIL was also reported to have evacuated and shifted its headquarters from the west side of Mosul to its east side.[102] A bridge into Mosul known as the "Freedom Bridge" was destroyed. Peshmerga sources blamed ISIL for its destruction, while ISIL claimed it was destroyed by airstrikes.[103]

18 October

On 18 October, the Iraqi government declared that twenty villages near Mosul were captured from ISIL in the first 24 hours of fighting by the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.[104] 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.[105] According to reports, the Peshmerga met little resistance on the eastern front, while Iraqi and PMF fighters coming from the south were facing tougher resistance from ISIL.[106]

The coalition strategy was reported to be to encircle Mosul completely, after which Iraqi troops would advance into the city-center.[107] Early in the day on 18 October, Iraqi forces in the east came close to Qaraqosh (Bakhdida), once the largest Assyrian town in Iraq, and fighters in the south were closing in on Hammam al-'Alil.[100] Iraqi Army forces later stormed Qaraqosh and fought with ISIL fighters who remained holed up.[108][109][110] 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.[111][112] The Peshmerga later paused their advance while the Iraqi Army continued its advance.[113]

Iraqi security forces transport two 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,[114] and expected to soon take control of the village of Zawiya.[115] 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.[109] 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.[116][117] State police also secured the Al-Mishraq sulfur plant south of Mosul.[118] The al-Shura district was stated by its mayor to have been captured by the Iraqi security forces.[119] Joint airstrikes by Iraqi and coalition warplanes on ISIL headquarters in Mosul destroyed 13 targets and killed 35 militants.[120]

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.[121][122][123]

A group of Naqshabandi Army militants reportedly attacked an ISIL controlled checkpoint in the village of Al-Houd, wounding 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.[124]

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.[125][126] 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.[127] The village of Kani Harami was captured after heavy fighting in the morning with the militants retreating to Abbasiyah.[128] A total of 22 towns were reported to have been captured, with 12 by the Peshmerga and 10 by the ISF.[129] Nofal Hammadi, governor of the Nineveh Governorate, declared that 40% of the province had been retaken from ISIL.[130]

The offensive to retake the town of Bashiqa northeast of Mosul, originally scheduled for dawn, was delayed due to lack of logistical support.[131] Thousands of Peshmerga were reportedly preparing to retake Bashiqa.[132] 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.[133][134]

20 October

The fighting grew more intense on 20 October.[135] A large convoy of Golden Division arrived at positions retaken by the Peshmerga forces.[136] They also captured Bartella. ISIL fighters detonated 9 truck bombs during the fighting.[137] According to Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi of the Iraqi Army, 200 ISIL fighters were killed in the fight for Bartella.[135]

The Peshmerga and NPF also announced a "large-scale operation" to the north and northeast of Mosul, aiming to retake the Assyrian towns of Tesqopa and Bashiqa.[134][138] 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.[139] On the southern front, Iraqi forces resumed their push north after a brief pause[140] and recaptured six villages east of Qayyarah.[139]

A U.S. bomb disposal expert embedded with the Peshmerga was killed after the vehicle he was riding in drove over a roadside bomb.[141] ISIL also set Al-Mishraq sulfur plant on fire, causing two deaths and nearly 1,000 hospitalizations from sulfur fume inhalation.[142] An ISIL ambush near Bashiqa left dozens of Peshmerga dead or wounded.[140] The group was also reported to be digging trenches to slow the advancement of coalition troops.[143]

21 October

ISIL launched multiple attacks in Kirkuk on 21 October to divert military resources. Multiple explosions 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.[144] Iraqi government forces meanwhile reported that they had retaken 2 more villages south of Mosul and killed 15 militants.[145]

22 October
Local boys observing cityscape of Qayyarah town on fire

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.[146] Iraqi officials also stated that 80 people were killed in Kirkuk, primarily Kurdish security forces, and about 170 wounded; 56 ISIL militants were also killed.[147] A reporter of Türkmeneli TV also died in the attack,[146] while at least seven journalists were wounded.[148]

A large-scale offensive began to retake the Assyrian town of Qaraqosh which remained under ISIL control after several days of fighting.[149] Iraqi troops also advanced on the town of Tel Keppe, north of Mosul.[150] 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.[146] A journalist was also killed by a sniper in the al-Shura area.[146]

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.[151]

23–24 October

The Peshmerga claimed on 23 October that they had recaptured Bashiqa,[152][153] however it was reported on the following day that they were still trying to capture it with the help of the Turkish military.[154] 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.[155]

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.[156] Nearly 800 ISIL fighters had been killed while 78 villages were reported to have been retaken from the group as of 24 October.[157] 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.[158]

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.[159] Turkish military supporting the Peshmerga destroyed several ISIL targets in the Bashiqa region of Northern Iraq.[160][161] 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.[162]

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.[163] Hundreds of ISIL suicide bombers were reported to have been sent from Syria to defend Mosul.[164]

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.[165] 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.[166]

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.[167] The head of the United States Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel stated that 800-900 militants had been killed in the battle.[166]

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.[168] 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.[169] 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 and ISIL militants were using a "scorched earth" policy by destroying houses, buildings and bridges to slow them down.[170]

Peshmerga and Iraqi forces also captured Fadiliya, which lies just 4 km away from Mosul.[171] 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[169][172]

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.[173][174][175] They also stated that they would not enter Mosul.[176] Meanwhile, Iraqi Army and PMF captured 15 villages from ISIL.[175]

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.[177]

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.[178] It also stated that it had captured 500 square kilometers of territory since the operation began.[179] PMF meanwhile stated that they had captured eight more villages to the southwest of Mosul.[180] 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.[181]

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.[182] After capturing Bazwaya, ISOF were less than 1 mile (1.6 km) from Mosul.[183]

Several Iraqi military officials stated that ISOF will begin its push into Mosul shortly.[184][185][186] 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.[187] Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi meanwhile called on ISIL fighters in Mosul to surrender.[183]

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.[188] Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition were targeting ISIL positions, and ISIL had started tire fires to reduce visibility.[59]

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.[189] The Golden Division entered Mosul's city limits that afternoon, engaging in street fights with ISIL militants.[189] Shortly after, the Iraqi Army announced that they had captured Mosul's state television building on the city's left bank.[190][191] 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.[189][192] Meanwhile, Iraqi forces captured 2 villages on the northern front.[189]

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.[193] In the western front, at least fifteen PMU fighters were killed when they entered abandoned villages booby-trapped with explosives.[194] ISIL also executed fifty deserters in Mosul.[195]

2 November

On 2 November, ISOF continued fighting remaining ISIL fighters in the eastern section of Gogjali.[196] 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.[197] Meanwhile, eight militants were killed in Mosul by Iraqi forces.[198]

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.[196] 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.[199] Meanwhile, Iraqi Federal Police captured two villages in the south.[196]

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.[200]

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army's 9th Armored Division was reported to have entered the neighborhood of al-Intisar in eastern Mosul.[201] while Mosul's Fifth Bridge, located over the Tigris river, was destroyed by airstrikes.[202]

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.[203]

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.[204] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to be abducting Mosul's boys to use as child soldiers.[195]

5 November

Fighting continued in the morning, with clashes most intense in the neighborhood of al-Bakr.[205] 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.[206] Fighting resumed in the Gogjali district, after militants emerged via tunnels during the night.[207]

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.[208]

ISIL claimed it had killed fifteen Iraqi soldiers and destroyed six military vehicles.[206] 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.[205]

The Iraqi army continued its assault on three fronts to Hamam al-Alil.[206] 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.[207]

Field hospital in Mosul, 6 November 2016
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.[209] They also stormed the Al-Sada district, their first entrance into northern Mosul.[210] 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.[25]

Blogger Mosul Eye reported that ISIL had begun installing bombs around residential buildings.[211] Meanwhile, a Kurdish official stated that three militants had been killed in an uprising by civilians in eastern Mosul.[25]

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.[212] About 100 to 200 ISIL militants were estimated to be left in the town.[213] In the early afternoon, the 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.[212]

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.[214] 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.[212]

8 November

The Peshmerga killed twelve ISIL fighters trying to flee Bashiqa.[215] 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.[216] CJTF–OIR also stated it had carried out an airstrike on an ISIL headquarters building near Tal Afar.[217] ISIL senior commander Mahmoud Shukri al-Nuaimi was also reported to have been killed in a coalition airstrike in western Mosul.[26]

9 November

ISOF captured majority of the Intisar district in southern Mosul while ISIL had reportedly deployed armed child soldiers in Mosul.[218] Aid agencies were unable to reach Mosul's neighborhoods retaken by Iraqi forces because of the danger of boobytraps and snipers.[219]

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.[220] On the southern front, pro-government forces advanced towards the ancient city of Nimrud.[221] Iraqi officials announced that the new ISIL war official, Khaled al-Mitwiti, had been killed,[222] while the Abbas Rajab village was captured by Iraqi forces.[223]

11 November

On the southern front, Iraqi forces were preparing to advance up the western bank of the Tigris River toward Mosul International Airport.[224] In eastern Mosul, Iraqi forces launched a new offensive to regain control of the neighborhood of Karkukli.[225] Iraqi anti-terror units were reported to have entered the Qadesiyya neighborhood.[226]

12 November

On 12 November, heavy clashes were reported in the al-Salam neighborhood of east Mosul.[227] Iraqi Army announced that it had captured al-Arbajiya district and was clearing the adjacent al-Qadisiya al-Thaniya district.[228] They also reached Palestine neighborhood in southeast Mosul and were engaged in battle with ISIL in the Quds neighborhood.[227] The PMU announced that the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ) as its part, had started the operation to capture villages around Sinjar from ISIL.[229]

After a number of its senior leaders were killed by a coalition air strike in east Mosul, ISIL imposed a curfew in the city.[230] 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.[231] Its fighters were meanwhile using drones for surveillance as well as suicide bombers and snipers against the Iraqi Army.[227]

13 November

On 13 November, Iraqi forces recaptured the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud as well as the adjacent modern town.[232][233] Iraqi forces meanwhile captured the Karkojli neighborhood in eastern Mosul.[234] 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.[235]

14 November

On 14 November, thirty ISIL fighters, including senior leaders, were killed as PMU forces captured the village of al-Abbas.[236] They also captured two more villages, and stated ISIL received severe human and material losses.[237] Meanwhile, twenty militants were killed in airstrikes by the Iraqi air Force.[238]

ISOF APC on the street of Mosul, 16 November 2016

Pro-government forces on the southern front captured the village of Bo Youssef and were 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from Mosul airport.[236] ISIL meanwhile launched three attacks using rockets filled with mustard gas on Qayyarah, causing seven casualties.[239]

15 November

On 15 November, 49 militants were killed in airstrikes by the United States Air Force on the al-Bakr neighborhood of Mosul.[240] 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.[241] 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.[242]

Outskirts of Mosul, 17 November 2016
16 November

On 16 November, fourteen civilians were killed by ISIL in the al-Zahraa neighborhood under government control.[243] Airstrikes by the US-led coalition meanwhile destroyed 4 watercrafts, 6 mortar systems, 2 fighting positions, 2 vehicles, a bunker and a building held by ISIL.[244]

PMF also took control of Tal Afar military airbase west of the city Mosul, killing a large number of ISIL fighters in the process.[245][246]

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.[247] In the vicinity, they were attacking further villages, in an area infamous for Sunni Islamist militancy and outstanding support for ISIL among the population.[248] PMF control had already been established in over 16 villages in the surrounding area, during preceding days.[249]

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.[250]

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

On 22 November, in Mosul ISIL fighters were reported targeting Iraqi special forces with rockets and mortars as they slowly advanced in the densely populated Zohour neighborhood.[251] Four of the five Tigris bridges were hit by coalition airstrikes within the past 48 hours.[252]

Far to the West at the Syrian border, near the town of Baaj, four Islamic State commanders were captured in a U.S. special operation.[252]

23 November

On 23 November, to the West, 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.[253]

25 November

50 ISIL fighters were killed and 32 others were arrested with Iraqi Federal Police continuing the operation to clear the area south of Mosul.[254]

30 November

On 30 November, PMF said they captured 12 villages from ISIL in the Tal Afar area over the past five days.[255]

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.[256] While the "Golden Division" Special Operations Forces persistently advanced into East Mosul, the 9th Division took one neighbourhood in the southeast, the 16th Division had not yet breached Mosul city limits from the north, and the 15th Division, advancing from the southwest, was still several kilometres away from western Mosul.[257]

December: Advancing towards the Syrian border

4 December

2 ISIL leaders, Abu Turq and Falah al-Rashidi, were killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition on 4 December. Al-Rishdi was involved in the group's use of VBIEDs (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) and was killed in Mosul. Abu Turq was killed in Shirqat and was a financial facilitator.[258]

6 December

20 airstrikes by the US-led coalition were heard on the morning of 6 December following an assault on the city's strategic main bridge that was held by ISIL. In the overnight hours, ISIL launched a counter-attack in the southeastern area of Mosul, near al-Salam; however, casualty figures from either side were not announced.[259] PMU meanwhile stated that it had captured the southern section of Tal Abta.[260]

Ongoing battle as of December 7th, 2016
7 December

Following the overnight ISIL attack, Iraqi forces continued to secure the al-Salam area, capturing al-Salam hospital. However, ISIL recaptured the hospital after a counterattack which destroyed or disabled 20 Iraqi vehicles.[261]

9 December

Iraqi Joint Operations Command announced on 9 December that they had captured the three districts of Saha, Adel and Tahrir. It further added that Iraqi forces had captured 27 districts of Mosul with clashes ongoing in 4 districts. Lieutenant-General Abdul Ameer Yarallah meanwhile stated that three factories making car bombs in Mosul and three weapons warehouses were destroyed by Iraqi airstrikes.[262]

11 December

The CTS forces mentioned that they had captured another district of east Mosul, al-Nour neighborhood.[263]

12 December

The Iraqi federal police said that three of their brigades, initially meant to advance from the southwest toward the airport, were redeployed to join the three "Golden Division" counterterrorism brigades in the east of the city.[264]

13 December

CTS commander Abdul Wahab al-Saedi stated that there were only 6 districts left to be captured by the CTS forces in East Mosul and they had already captured 32 of them.[265] While the PMF to the West continued clearing villages in the desert region of the ISIL heartland, on 13 December it was reported that the Badr militia was targeting villages around Tal Afar to "surround Daesh and tighten the noose around them", and Kata'ib Hezbollah advanced further west towards the Syrian border.[266] Abu Dur al-Tunsi and Bilal al-Shawash, two Tunisian ISIL military commanders, reportedly deserted after they were attacked by Iraqi members. According to the head of Nineveh Media Centre's Raafat al-Zarari, the local militants were being made to fight at the front lines, while some non-Iraqi commanders didn't engage in direct clashes.[30] CTS forces meanwhile captured al-Falah Oula and al-Falah Thaniya districts later in the day while PMU captured 7 villages near Tal Afar.[267]

14 December

On 14 December, 70 ISIL fighters including 20 senior leaders as well as their bodyguards were killed in Iraqi airstrikes on Tel Abta where they were holding a meeting.[268] Meanwhile, 40 civilians were killed in airstrikes and shelling in east Mosul.[269] A number of militants who attempted to launch suicide attacks in 3 districts of east Mosul were also killed, with some of their booby-trapped vehicles also destroyed.[270]

15 December

The Iraqi Federal Police announced on 15 December the capture of Saleh Najem Abdullah, the Media Center Official of ISIL.[271] CTS commander Abdul Ghani al-Assadi meanwhile announced that the first phase of retaking the eastern shores of the city was completed, with CTS forces capturing 40 out of 56 districts.[272]

16 December

PMF were in the process to take control of further villages to the south and southwest of Tal Afar, after capturing Tel Abth district, home to almost 50,000 people and a major strategic ISIL stronghold, in the past days.[264] Iraqi forces meanwhile repelled 4 ISIL attacks, killing 174 militants and destroying 13 SVBIEDs.[273]

17 December

An airstrike by the US-led coalition near Mosul destroyed 5 buildings used by ISIL in addition to quantities of weapons and equipment.[274]

18 December

Brig. Gen. Taher al-Sammak of Iraq's SWAT forces stated that the 9th Division, with the assistance of CTS, had started attacking al-Wehda district of east Mosul in order to regain control of al-Salam hospital.[275]

19 December

Captain Iyad Ziad of Nineveh Operations Command stated that Iraqi forces had stormed into al-Mazare’ area after retaking large parts of al-Wahda in southeastern Mosul and also killed 14 ISIL fighters including 4 suicide bombers.[276] 4 PMF fighters were meanwhile killed in an ISIL attack on Abu Senam village near Tel Afar. The group also shelled Tel Afar Airport and destroyed 2 PMF vehicles.[277]

21 December

U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Matthew Isler announced on 21 December that pro-government forces had entered a planned operational refit which included repairing vehicles, re-supplying ammunition and preparing for the next stage of the battle. He also stated that they had captured more than a quarter of the city.[278]

22 December

The UN stated, on 22 December, that 4 Iraqi aid workers and 7 civilians were killed by mortar fire. Later, ISIL launched a triple suicide bomb attack at a market in Gogjali. 23 people, including 15 civilians, were killed in the attacks, according to the Iraqi military.[279] The Iraqi Ministry of Defense says the Iraqi Air Force bombarded a gathering of Islamic State members, south of Tal Abta area, killing 20 leaders and 50 members, based on intelligence information.[280]

23 December

The Iraqi Army captured the Mosul Police Academy headquarters in Al-Qahira district on 23 December. This was their first major advance since suspension of military operations a week earlier.[281]

24 December
Iraqis present Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford with the ISIL flag

U.S. Army Colonel Brett G. Sylvia stated on 24 December that American soldiers assisting Iraqi forces will be embedded more extensively and will partner with additional formations.[282] Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated that Iraqi forces are in control of over a third of Mosul. Iraqi Joint Operations Command spokesperson Yahia Rasoul stated that Iraqi forces control 44% of Nineveh Governate. He added that CTS forces control 40 districts in east Mosul, while the Iraqi Army's 9th Battalion held six districts.[283] Meanwhile, 10 civilians were killed due to ISIL shelling in eastern Mosul.[284]

25 December

At least 97 militants were killed in Mosul during the day according to Operations Commander Lieutenant-General Abdulamir Rashid Yarallah. He stated that an attack by ISIL on police stations south of Abuyosif area resulted in the death of 21 IS fighters. He also added that another attack at Al-Intisar, Salam and Al-Shaima'a neighborhoods had killed 51 jihadists, while the anti-ISIL coalition killed 25 militants in airstrikes on their hideout.[285] CTS reportedly stormed into the Al-Quds district later in the day.[286]

26 December

Commander of Nineveh Operations Major General Najim al-Jabouri announced on 26 December that new military reinforcements had arrived in the Mosul neighborhoods retaken by Iraqi forces, both to enhance their presence and to prepare themselves to storm into the remaining areas of the eastern side.[287] Lieutenant Colonel Stuart James, commander of an American battalion assisting the Iraqi forces, meanwhile stated that a new advance in Mosul would begin within days.[288] The Iraqi Defence Ministry meanwhile stated that 10 militants were killed and 14 ISIL cannons were destroyed in coalition airstrikes in east of Mosul.[289] According to a military official, another 5 ISIL fighters were captured for information after some troops of the 16th Division, disguised as ISIL members, infiltrated inside the Owaiza area.[290]

27 December

The ISIL-run Amaq News Agency stated that the anti-ISIL coalition had destroyed the Old Bridge, the last functioning bridge in Mosul. The US-led Coalition, meanwhile, stated that it had disabled a Mosul bridge with airstrikes without providing the details.[291]

29 December

Iraqi forces launched the second phase of the battle on 29 December, pushing from three directions into eastern Mosul districts. Iraqi soldiers and Federal Police entered about half a dozen southeastern districts. CTS meanwhile advanced in al-Quds and Karama districts. In the third front, Iraqi soldiers also pushed toward the northern limits.[292] Jabouri stated that they were ordered by the Prime Minister to reach the Tigris River.[293] An ISIL headquarters in al-Thobat district was reportedly destroyed in coalition airstrikes, killing 12 militants.[294] Later in the day, the commander of the operation declared that they had captured 2 villages to the north of Mosul, killing 70 militants.[295] Iraqi forces had captured half of al-Quds by early afternoon.[296] The Iraqi military later announced that they had killed more than 200 militants during the day.[297]

30 December

Iraqi security forces advanced in several areas on 30 December. In the northern front, the 16th Division stormed the Habdaa district while also trying to cut off the supply lines to Tel Kayf.[298][299] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have evacuated family members of its foreign fighters from four districts in western Mosul.[300] 2 ISIL attacks in eastern Mosul were later repelled.[301] Ammar al-Haweidi, who is an elite leader of ISIL was reported to have been killed by the Iraqi Federal Police.[302] Clashes broke out again in one of the villages reported to be captured a day earlier.[303]

31 December

Heavy clashes occurred on the southeastern and northern fronts of Mosul on 31 December. An Iraqi Army officer deployed in the southeastern front reported that their advances were slowed down due to heavy clashes and difficulty in differentiating between civilians and militants. Iraqi forces on the northern front advances towards the periphery of Mosul, with an officer stating that heavy clashes were ongoing in the Argoob area.[304] The CTS destroyed four VBIEDs when ISIL tried to attack them in the street linking al-Ta’mim neighborhood and the garage area in east Mosul.[305] The U.S. military meanwhile stated that its airstrikes on a van carrying ISIL fighters at a hospital compound parking lot might have killed civilians.[306]


January 2017: Second phase and reaching the Tigris

1 January

Iraqi forces continued their advance on 1 January 2017. The military announced that it had captured a part of the Karama district, and a federal police officer stated that they had taken near complete control of Intissar and Siha districts, and were clearing the Salam district.[307] CTS linked up with Rapid Response Division during the day at the edge of al-Intissar and al-Quds. Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a top CTS commander, stated that Iraqi forces had captured more than 60% of east Mosul.[308] Iraqi Defence Ministry's War Media Cell announced during the day that Iraqi forces had captured Yunus al-Sabaawi and Yafa districts in the southeastern part of the city. Lt. Col. Eyad al-Awsyi said that they had also completely captured al-Intissar, and were nearing completion of capturing Karama.[309] Federal Police announced later in the day that they had captured the Gogjali-Intsar road.[310] They also stated during the day that they had captured the strategic No.60 Street to the southeast of Mosul. Army major Ali Mohsen meanwhile said that the Iraqi Army had captured al-Malayeen, al-Kindi and al-Arabi al-Thania districts.[311]

2 January

CTS announced on 2 January that they had completely captured al-Karama district.[312] Sabah al-Numan, the CTS spokesman, later stated that they were clearing the remaining militants in North Karama. ISIL meanwhile cut off a strategic road linking Mosul and Baghdad. The group also shelled Shirqat, after attacking a military barracks near Baiji and seizing weapons. According to the Mayor of Shirqat, they had seized 3 checkpoints on the main road between the city and Baiji. Iraqi authorities later said that they had regained control of the road.[313]

3 January

Iraqi forces stormed three districts on 3 January and killed 50 militants during clashes in 2 of them.[314] The operation commander said that Iraqi Air Force airstrikes had destroyed the office of ISIL's hisbah police located on Mosul-Tel Afar road, and several warfare utilities of the group.[315] The Federal Police said that it had destroyed the headquarters of Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of Caliphate), an ISIL explosives factory and a drone headquarters in al-Mithaq district.[316] The Iraqi Army announced later that CTS had captured Karama industrial neighborhood, the Industrial district, the Karama Silo (a flour mill), and a Mercedes Company building during the day.[317] The Ministry of Defense later announced that Iraqi forces had captured the area of exhibitions and the commercial complex to the south of Ta'mim district.[318] The forces later announced that they had captured Al-Hay al-Senai and al-Mithaq districts as well as the Maaridh area to the east of Mosul.[319]

4 January

Iraqi forces cleared Mithaq district and advanced in al-Wahda on 4 January.[320] The United Nations said that civilian casualties had started increasing as they advanced.[321] The Joint Operations Command said that the Federal Police and 9th Division had captured Wahda after heavy clashes, bringing them closer to the city center, and that ISIL counter-attacks in southeastern Mosul had been repelled, with the death of about 40 militants and destruction of 7 VBIEDs. Iraqi forces also advanced in al-Salam, Palestine, al-Shaimaa, Domiez and Sumer districts amid heavy clashes.[322] The Federal Police meanwhile announced the killing of Abu Marawan al-Hadithi, an ISIL leader. Lt.-Gen. Ra'ed Shaker also said that Iraqi forces had cleared al-Wahda, al-Moallemin and Sumer districts, and had captured the Mosul-Kirkuk road.[323] The United States Department of Defense and the anti-ISIL coalition stated that American advisers had entered Mosul along with Iraqi forces.[324]

5 January

Lt.-Gen. Talib Shaghati stated on 5 January that Iraqi forces had captured about 65-70% of east Mosul.[325] During the day, the Federal Police said that they had destroyed three ISIL drones in east Mosul. An attack on PMU near Tal Afar was meanwhile reportedly repelled, with the deaths of 35 militants including senior recruitment agent Abu Qaswara al-Shami.[326] The Federal Police announced that 1,700 ISIL fighters had been killed in the second phase. General Raed Shaker Jawdat stated that the group's headquarters in Nineveh province had been destroyed and Iraqi forces had captured eight districts in the second phase, thus bringing the entire southeastern section of Mosul under their control. He added that they had also captured drone factories, five car bomb manufacturing plants, an electrical plant, a windmill and several schools. He said that all the remaining districts in east Mosul had been surrounded and would be stormed soon.[327]

6 January

On 6 January, CTS was reported to have stormed the al-Muthanna district during an overnight raid across the al-Khawsar river.[328] A CTS spokesman later said that ISIL had been driven out of the district and dozens of militants killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition.[329] This was the first time that Iraqi forces had entered Mosul from the north.[330] They also launched an assault on the Hadbaa apartment complex in the northern front, and faced heavy clashes later in the day.[331]

7 January

Iraqi forces continued their advance on 7 January, coming within several hundred metres of the Tigris river. During the day CTS said that they had captured the al-Gharfan district (previously known as al-Baath) and had entered Wahda district. The military later announced that they had captured a hospital complex in Wahda. Meanwhile, a spokesman of the anti-ISIL coalition stated that ISIL had deliberately damaged the fourth bridge as Iraqi forces advanced.[332] Staff Lieutenant General Yarallah said that Iraqi forces had captured Al-Salam Hospital, Al-Shifa Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine, a medical college. They had also captured ISIL's command center and two prisons.[333][334] He later said that CTS had captured Rifaq, Atibaa 1st and Atibaa 2nd districts, and well as the Hadbaa residential complex.[335]

8 January

On 8 January, al-Saadi said that CTS troops advancing towards Sukkar and Baladiyat districts had been attacked by ISIL from a historic hill, but had been repelled with the help of coalition warplanes, killing dozens of militants.[336] Security sources said that Iraqi forces were shelling ISIL's positions in al-Kindi district in preparation for storming it later, while the 9th division and Federal Police had launched an attack on Sumer and Domiz districts in the southeastern front.[337] The CTS spokesman said that Iraqi forces had reached the Tigris river for the first time in the offensive, advancing towards the eastern side of the fourth bridge. Brett McGurk, USA's envoy to the anti-ISIL coalition, said that ISIL's defences in eastern Mosul were showing signs of collapse.[338] An ISIL attack on Hadbaa apartments was later reportedly repelled, with the death of about 10 militants and destruction of 4 VBIEDs.[339] PMU meanwhile stated that they had repelled an ISIL attack near Adaya, located to the west of Mosul, killing about 10 militants.[340]

9 January

Iraqi military stated on 9 January that CTS had captured the Baladiyat district in the eastern front while the Federal Police and Iraqi Army had captured Domiz and Palestine districts in the southeastern front. CTS also carried out operations to clear Furqan and Atiba districts. An ISIL attack in Furqaan was repelled according to the military, resulting in deaths of 30 militants.[341] Iraqi Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell meanwhile stated that Iraqi Air Force killed 25 militants in airstrikes in eastern Mosul while airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition killed about 20 militants in al-Abra village near Tal Afar.[342] The group which was still in control of the city's water stations, was reported to have cut the water supply to more than 30 districts captured by Iraqi forces.[343] ISOF meanwhile surrounded the University of Mosul.[344]

10 January

Iraqi Joint Operations Command stated on 10 January that CTS forces had captured the Sukkar and al-Dhubbat districts while advancing in Siddeeq and al-Maliyah districts. Several governmental offices including the communication complex, provincial electricity department and a security headquarters were also captured according to it. It also stated that ISIL had blown up two bridges in order to prevent Iraqi forces from attacking western Mosul. It added that in the southeastern front, the Federal police and Iraqi Army pushed further into al-Salam, Palestine, Sumer, Yarimja and Sahiron districts. Regarding the northern front it stated that Iraqi Army advanced further into al-Hadbaa while capturing northern part of Sabaa Nisaan.[345] Meanwhile, a security source stated that Iraqi Air Force had conducted airstrikes on headquarters of ISIL's Australian leaders in Mosul, killing the commander of Australian Brigade Khaled Sharouf, also known as Abu Mosab al-Australi along with three of his aides.[346]

11 January

Iraqi forces continued advancing on 11 January with military officials stating that the CTS had advanced in the Sadeeq district and were firing into the adjacent Hadbaa. Iraqi forces also clashed with ISIL in the southern front during the day.[347]

12 January

CTS spokesman al-Numan stated on 12 January that CTS had captured 7th Nissan and Sadeeq districts, successfully linking up with Iraqi Army advancing in Hadbaa district. He claimed that Iraqi forces were now in control of about 85% of eastern Mosul. The Rapid Response Division meanwhile advanced in Sumer and Sahiroun districts.[348] Iraqi Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell stated that a senior ISIL leader was killed along with his companions in an airstrike by Iraqi Air Force on their camp in al-Amel district.[349] Security sources stated that 90 militants were killed in airstrikes by Iraqi Air Force on Yaramja district while local sources stated that 3 militants including a senior member in charge of ISIL's prisons were killed in a drone strike in western Mosul.[350] The operation command later announced that Iraqi Army had captured Sumer and Sahiroun districts.[351] PMU meanwhile stated it had captured 3 villages near Tel Abta.[352] The operation command later also announced that Iraqi forces had captured al-Salam district.[353]

13 January

The operation command announced on 13 January that CTS had reached the second bridge of the city, which is also called the "Freedom Bridge". Yarallah stated that in response, ISIL had destroyed all five bridges of the city, in order to slow the Iraqi advance towards western Mosul.[354][355] CTS later announced they had reached the Old Bridge also known as the "Iron Bridge" and stormed the University of Mosul, capturing a part of its complex later in the day.[356] The operation command later announced that CTS had captured al-Kafa'at district in eastern front as well as al-Sadriya, al-Naser and al-Faisaliyah in central part of East Mosul.[357] Iraqi Army also captured the Hadbaa district during the day,[358] while Yarallah declared that CTS had captured a government complex which included the Nineveh Governorate and council buildings.[359]

14 January

Spokesman Abdel Amir al-Mohammedawi stated on 14 January that the Rapid Response Division had captured the Yarimja area as well as a field hospital ISIL was using. A military statement meanwhile announced that the Federal Police had captured the highway between Mosul and Kirkuk.[360] Iraqi forces later completely captured the University of Mosul, in addition to the eastern side of a third bridge.[361] Meanwhile, 10 militants were reportedly killed or wounded in infighting between a group of ISIL fighters who fled towards west Mosul and the leaders in western side due to mutual accusations.[362] An airstrike by CJTF-OIR on the house of a senior ISIL leader was reported to have resulted in deaths of around 30 civilians. CENTCOM stated that the allegation will be investigated.[363] Suicide bombings were carried out by an Iraqi, Tajik, and an Uzbek.[364]

15 January

On 15 January, Iraqi forces carried out a sweeping operation in the University of Mosul for any hiding militants while continuing their advancement along the Tigris river.[365] The operation command later announced that the Iraqi Army had captured al-Kafaat Thani (Second) district in the northern front while CTS had captured Andalus in the eastern front.[366][367]

16 January
The ruins of the Nabi Yunus mosque after it was captured by Iraqi forces

Clashes occurred in Shurta and Andalus districts on 16 January. By this point, Iraqi forces had taken complete control of the river banks in the south.[368] The operation command during the day announced that the Army had captured Kindi and Qairawan districts while CTS had captured Jammasa.[369] CTS spokesman al-Numan later announced that they had captured the Nabi Yunus area including the Nabi Yunus shrine.[370]

Ongoing battle as of January 17th, 2017.
17 January

al-Numan stated that CTS was now in complete control of Shurta and Andalus. He also stated that they had pushed into Eastern Nineveh and Souq al-Ghanam districts. A separate military statement announced that CTS had also captured al-Muhandiseen district. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Army in the northern front stormed the Kindi military base.[371] Yarallah later announced that CTS had captured Nineveh al-Sharqiya, Bab-Shams and Souq al-Ghanam districts in the eastern front. He added that they had also captured Nu'maniya and Uttshana districts in addition to storming the adjacent al-Jazair district. Regarding the northern front, he stated that Iraqi Army had captured the Kindi military base, the former headquarters of the 2nd Division as well as the nearby al-Kindi facility.[372][373] Iraqi forces also succeeded in capturing all five bridges of the city during the day while al-Saadi announced they had also captured the Zaraei district.[374] CTS also captured Al Jazair, Al Derkazlih, Al Seuis and Sanharib districts during the day. Yarallah also stated that they had captured the Grand Mosque of the city.[375][376] United States Air Force Colonel John Dorrian stated during the day that Iraqi forces were in control of 85-90% of east Mosul.[377] Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi meanwhile stated that Iraqi forces had begun moving against ISIL in western Mosul.[378]

18 January

Lieutenant-General Talib Shaghati announced on 18 January that CTS had captured all the districts of east Mosul they were tasked with taking, and that Iraqi forces were almost in complete control of the eastern side. A military statement announced that a few parts of the city in north had yet to be captured by the Iraqi Army.[379] Shaghati also stated that all five bridges of the city were under control of Iraqi forces. During the day, CTS captured the Nineveh ruins as well as the adjacent Tal Nirgal area. The operation command meanwhile announced that Iraqi Army had captured al-Qadhiyah district and were fighting on the edges of al-Arabi district.[380][381] PMU meanwhile announced that they had captured 2 areas in the Nineveh Plains region.[382]

19 January

On 19 January, the military statements announced that the Iraqi Army had captured the town of Tel Kayf (after a nearly 3-month-long siege),[383][384] as well as the Nineveh Oberoi hotel and the "Palaces" area on the eastern bank of the Tigris. Clashes were still ongoing in the Al-Arabi District. Meanwhile, McGurk announced that over 50 watercrafts and barges being used by ISIL to supply its members in eastern Mosul were destroyed in airstrikes.[385] Iraqi Air Force carried out an airstrike in al-Zerai area in Mosul, reportedly killing five ISIL leaders including Abdel Wahed Khodier, assistant to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; the Islamic Police Chief in Nineveh, Ahmed Khodier Sayer al-Juwan and Agriculture Minister in Tal Afar and Mahlabiya, Abdel Karim Khodier Sayer al-Juwan.[386] Yarallah meanwhile announced that Iraqi forces had also captured the Fadiliyah district and Jaber ibn Hayyan military facility.[387] Iraqi forces also captured the Ghabat area during the day.[388]

20 January

Yarallah announced on 20 January that the 9th Division had captured the free zone in the northern sector.[389] Iraqi forces also captured a pharmaceutical plant to the north of Mosul as well as Al-Arabi 1 district. They also clashed with ISIL in Rashidiyah district. Meanwhile, CTS started clearing the districts they had captured in Mosul.[390][388] Iraqi Air Forces also said that they carried out an airstrike targeting the regions of Tel Kaif and al-Sehaji, in northeastern Mosul, killing 88 militants.[391]

21 January

Iraqi forces continued advancing in the outskirts of the city on 21 January. During the day, the operation command announced that the Iraqi Army had completely captured al-Arabi district as well as al-Qousiyat village, leaving some 40 militants killed and four car bombs destroyed.[392] The CJTF-OIR also announced that between 19 and 21 January, they had targeted a flotilla of 90 boats and three barges being used by ISIL to cross the Tigris and escape the clashes.[393] On the same day, Coalition officials stated that the fight for west Mosul is expected to be tougher than the fight for east Mosul.[394]

22 January

The Iraqi military announced on 22 January that Iraqi forces had captured Al-Milayeen district and Al-Binaa al-Jahiz area as well as the Mosul-Dohuk road. By this point, only the Rashidiyah district was left under ISIL control in eastern Mosul.[395]

23 January

Iraqi defense ministry issued a statement earlier on 23 January on its website, announcing the complete capture of eastern Mosul. However it was later removed with fighting ongoing in Rashidiyah which the Iraqi Army entered during the day.[396]

24 January

The operation command announced on 24 January that Iraqi troops captured the Rashidiyah district as well as the villages of Ba'wiza, Shrikhan and Baysan. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi later announced the "full liberation" of eastern Mosul.[397]

25 January

Col. Khaled al-Jewari, from the Joint Operations Command, told DPA that ISIL executed a qadi (senior judge), along with other combat commanders, for escaping from the battle for eastern Mosul.[398]

Meanwhile, the PMU announced that they took over Tel Shana, a strategic hill in Salahuddin, after killing dozens of IS militants. It added that PMUs also took over the villages of ِArab Leith, Mohamed al-Awad and Ard Mosaltan after intense fights with the extremist group.[399]

28 January

The PMU's 2nd brigade announced that they repelled an attack launched by ISIL on the al-Kobayrat area, to the west of Mosul, killing 40 militants.[400]

30 January

Iraqi state TV reported that the PMU killed 35 ISIL members west of Mosul.[401]

February 2017: Third phase and advance into western Mosul

3 February

On 3 February, the PMU announced that they had captured the villages of Bostan Radif and Um Gharba, as well as the Sherka region of western Mosul.[402]

13 February

On 13 February, more than 200 ISIL fighters launched an attack on three villages to the west of Tal Afar with tanks and VBIEDs, to regain access between western Mosul and Raqqa. The attack was repelled by the PMU, resulting in deaths of more than 50 ISIL fighters and the destruction of 17 VBIEDs.[403] Another attack on a village to the south of village was repelled, resulting in deaths of 13 militants according to the Federal Police.[404] Airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition killed Haqi Ismail Hamid al-Emri, a former member of al-Qaeda in Iraq who played a leadership role of ISIL's security networks in Mosul.[405]

18 February

On 18 February, leaflets were distributed to western Mosul residents announcing and assuring that the offensive against the ISIL-held region of the city would continue soon.[406] Iraqi fighter jets also targeted ISIL's headquarters and communication positions in the western area.[407]

19 February

On 19 February, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, announced the start of the operation to capture western Mosul.[407] Iraqi forces attacked to retake the Mosul Airport, capturing around 15 villages and a power plant near west Mosul during the day.[408][409]

20 February

On 20 February, Iraqi forces captured the strategic village of Albu Saif to the south of Mosul and reached the vicinity of the city's airport.[410][411] PMU meanwhile recaptured Sahaji, the last ISIL-held village on the road between Tal Afar and Mosul, effectively cutting off the road between the two cities.[412] It also captured the village of Lazaga during the day.[413] Iraqi Kurdistan's Counter-terrorism Group (CTG) meanwhile stated that Peshmerga forces had killed several ISIL leaders and at least 30 militants in an operation carried out with the co-operation of the anti-ISIL coalition. The leaders killed in the operation included Abu Bakr el Sheshani who is a Russian national and ISIL's military official in Nineveh Governorate, Abu Fatma el Tounsi who is the group’s financial official in the governorate, Dr. Salah Hassan el Sakalawi (also known as Dr. Abdullah) who is considered ISIL's health minister, as well as Dr. Abu Hassan el Homosi who is the group's Emir for health in Wilayat el Sham.[31] Iraqi forces also attacked Ghazlani camp, the biggest military facility in Mosul.[414] Federal Police also was reported to have captured about 8 villages western outskirts of Mosul.[415]

21 February

On 21 February, Iraqi forces continued clearing the hills around Albu Saif, successfully clearing two villages near it.[416] Raed Shakir Jawdat, Federal Police chief later stated that ISIL had pulled out of Mosul airport after clashes. At least 90 ISIS militants were announced to have been killed in drone strikes during the day, ISIL's chief security observant "Abu Abdullah" and Mekhled al-Geheishi, a senior ISIL executioner at Badush prison, were among them.[417][418]

22 February

Contrary to previous days reports, the airport was reported to be still under ISIL control, with Iraqi forces readying an assault to retake it.[419] Meanwhile, PMU launched an assault to capture Tal Afar and captured two villages around it, killing 47 militants and destroying 13 booby-trapped vehicles in the process.[420] Ammar Mustafa Yusuf (also known as Abu Ibrahim), ISIL's wali of Tal Afar, was killed along with his son in an airstrike by Iraqi Air Force on a village near Tal Afar.[421] Jawdat announced that Iraqi forces had recaptured al-Bouseif hills during the day.[422]

23 February

On 23 February, Iraqi forces backed by drones and heavy artillery attacked the Mosul airport, advancing from several directions towards it. They captured the airport later on along with 2 other villages near it. In addition, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul also announced that Iraqi forces had captured an ISIL weapons storage warehouse, a former ISIL headquarters and the barracks at al-Ghazlani military facility.[423] Jawdat also announced that Iraqi forces also captured a nearby sugar plant along with its residential areas.[424] Meanwhile, airstrikes in western and southern Mosul reportedly killed 35 ISIL members including a regional mayor.[425] ISIL also issued a death warrant against a senior leader named "Abu Osama" who had fled during the battle for Mosul airport.[426] PMU meanwhile announced that Ali Abdel Kadim al-Saeedi, commander of its 10th Brigade, was killed in clashes with ISIL in Tel Afar.[427] One of ISIL's emirs, Abu Dujana al-Tunsi, was also reported to have been killed during clashes in Tal Afar.[428] An ISIL counter-attack to break Mosul's siege was repelled by PMU during the day.[429] An ISIL rocket attack late in the day on soldiers stationed at Mosul airport resulted in dozens of deaths.[430]

Ongoing battle as of February 24th, 2017
24 February

On 24 February, Iraqi forces captured al-Ghazlani military base and entered a district in western Mosul for the first time. Jawdat announced that they had captured a sports facility in al-Tayyaran district.[431] Sami al-Aridhi, a lieutenant-general of CTS, also announced that Iraqi forces captured the Tall al-Rayyan village, outside Mosul, and entered al-Mamoun district.[430]

25 February

Iraqi forces continued advancing inside western Mosul on 25 February. Brigadier General Hisham Abdul Kadhim announced that Federal Police and Rapid Response Division had captured Hawi al-Josaq and had begun clearing the Tayyaran district. Al-Saadi meanwhile stated that CTS pushed towards Wadi Hajr and al-Mamoun districts from two fronts and had entered both of them.[432] Saadi later also stated that their advance had slowed and they were facing heavy resistance, especially in al-Mamoun, since its streets are organized randomly, making it difficult to set up roadblocks for countering VBIEDs.[433] Shifa Gardi, a Kurdish reporter working for Rudaw, was killed by a roadside bomb while covering the advance of Iraqi forces.[434] During the same day, PMU announced it had captured eight villages to west of Mosul.[435] The Ministry of Defense's War Media Cell also announced that the 9th Armored Battalion of the Iraqi Army had fully captured al-Yarmouk power, which supplies power to the whole city.[436] ISIL destroyed a bridge to the Badush village to hinder the Iraqi advance while a coalition airstike on an ISIL convoy in the village killed 16 militants.[437]

26 February

Iraqi forces advanced further on 26 February in order to gain control of the southernmost bridge linking Mosul's eastern and western sides. Clashes were also ongoing in Hawi al-Josaq and al-Tayyaran districts.[438] Iraqi forces later captured al-Tayyaran and al-Maamoun districts. They also entered al-Mansour, al-Shuhadaa and Dawas districts.[439] They also announced they had captured al-Harakiyat, an area south of the city used as a major oil-smuggling route by ISIL.[440]

27 February

Iraqi forces advanced in Hawi al-Jowsaq and announced they had captured the Fourth Bridge on 27 February.[441] They later regained control of Jowsaq district.[442] The operation command meanwhile announced that they had captured Tal Rumman village in western Mosul.[443] They also entered and clashed with ISIL in Wadi Hajr district.[444] Meanwhile, Iraqi troops killed 120 militants and an Islamic State’s designated “emir” of Dawasah district during advances towards central Mosul.[445]

March 2017

Humanitarian issues

Up to 1.5 million civilians live in the city, sparking concerns among various organizations of a large humanitarian crisis.[446] 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."[446] Save the Children warned that massive civilian bloodshed was likely unless safe routes were allowed to let civilians flee.[447] The U.S. government has accused ISIL of using civilians as human shields.[448]

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.[449][450]

ISIL has reportedly threatened to execute civilians trying to flee. Snipers, landmines and trenches are preventing people from attempting to escape.[58] 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.[64][451]

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.[452]

The International Business Times reported that ISIL has forced boys from Mosul as young as 12 to fight for them, and that ISIL had trained the children to "behead prisoners and make suicide bombs."[453]

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.[454]

UN sources stated that four people died from inhaling toxic fumes after ISIL set fire to the Al-Mishraq Chemical Factory on 23 October.[455]

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.[164]

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."[170]

Iraqi forces evacuated more than 1,000 civilians from the front lines surrounding Mosul on 26 October, moving them to the Khazir region.[456] Civilians on the southern front had reported that their relatives had been taken by retreating ISIL fighters to be used as human shields.[163]

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 a 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.[457]

On 31 October, a member of the Nineveh Provincial Council stated 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.[458]

Mosul Eye reported on 3 November that mortar strikes killed five civilians in Mosul.[459]

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.[460]

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."[461][462] 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.[212]

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.[463]

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.[464] 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.[465]

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.[466]

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."[467]

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.[468]

In late February 2017, Iraqi forces uncovered the largest known mass grave dug by ISIL at the "Khafsa Sinkhole" near Mosul, containing the bodies of 4,000 Iraqi government personnel. They had been killed by ISIL shortly after the Fall of Mosul in June 2014.[469]

Allegations against anti-ISIL forces

Activists and human rights organisations have accused the Kurdish authorities in Kirkuk of attacking and ejecting Arabs living in the city into the streets or unsafe areas in order to take revenge on ISIL, which attacked the city on 21 October 2016. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the security committee of Kirkuk Governorate had declared on 23 October that people who live in Kirkuk but were not in camps, have to leave the city or move into a camp for displaced people and it forced 325 families to leave their homes while destroying about 100 homes in southern Kirkuk by 24 October. It also stated that 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 according to HRW.[470][471] Kurdish authorities however denied these reports and claimed that only people from areas recently recaptured from ISIL were asked to leave.[472]

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.[473][474][475] Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi later stated that only the Iraqi army and the Iraqi national police will enter the city itself.[56][476]

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."[477]

On 11 November, the Sunni website Middle East Monitor hosted video of the Iraqi Special Forces allegedly murdering an Iraqi Sunni 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 outrage on social media", with Sunni Arabic speakers using the hashtag #CrushedByATank (Arabic: #السحق_بالدبابة‎‎) and using anti-Shia secterian slurs. The soldiers were wearing the insignia of the Iraqi Special Forces.[478]

On January 19, Iraqi forces summarily executed three civilians who they later claimed were IS suspects.[479][480]

The Middle East Monitor accused Iraqi Shias of allegedly targeting Sunni Arabs "in a possible genocide", and claimed that "Sunni Arabs are being targeted for ethnic cleansing by Iraqi Christians".[481][482] However, Middle East Monitor was the sole origin of the report.[483][484] The fundamentalist Sunni Muslim Brotherhood is linked to the "Middle East Monitor".[485]

On 25 February 2017, Iraqi soldiers allegedly found a dog wearing an explosive belt. According to the source, the device was intended to be activated at a remote distance to serve as a terrorist attack.[486]

Displacements and relief efforts

Italian Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, arrived in Erbil on 17 October to meet with Kurdish officials.[487] 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.[488] 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).[109] 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.[489]

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).[490]

A displaced Sunni Arab family from Mosul

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.[491]

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.[492] According to the United Nations and UNICEF, 22,000 people had been displaced, including more than 9,000 children.[493]

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.[48] 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.[494] A particular concern is potential disease outbreaks among young children who have not been immunized since ISIL took over the city in June 2014.[495]

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.[496]


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."[497]
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."[498]
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."[499]
 United States
Then 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,[500] "This is a decisive moment in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat."[501]

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.[502][503][504] 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.[505] 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."[506]

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."[507]

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.[508]

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.").[74]

Turkish involvement

The involvement of Turkey in the operation has considerably strained its relations with Iraq.[5] Turkey has 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers in Iraq,[509] 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.[510][511] 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.[5] 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,"[512] and said their presence was to ensure that Mosul did not fall to Kurdish or Shia control and become a threat to Turkey.[513][514] Turkey's presence was criticized by Kurds in northern Iraq,[515] and thousands of protestors demonstrated at the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad on 18 October, demanding Turkish forces withdraw from Iraq.[516] The United States has reportedly attempted to persuade Iraq to cooperate with Turkey on the Mosul offensive.[517] 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."[518] 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.[5]

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.[519][520][521] 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."[522]

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.[523]

Violation of the laws of war in the battle of Mosul

February 2017, Human Rights Watch issued a report regarding the violation of the laws of war in Iraq. According to the report, Islamic state fighters occupied Al-Salam hospital in Mosul on June 2014 and put the staff and the patients at risk of attacks. During the battle of Mosul, seven Iraqi soldiers’ corpses were dragged through the streets, and bodies of three soldiers were hanged from a bridge in the city. As the report mentioned, ISIS fighters occupied a clinic in the town of Hammam al-Alil, which was then hit by an airstrike without warning on October 18, killing at least eight civilians. Previously, they occupied other clinics in other towns controlled by the Islamic State fighters in Iraq as well as they have had offices in all the medical facilities in the Republican, Ibn Sina, al-Salam, and Mosul General Hospitals. Like ISIS, the Iraqi Security Forces and Popular Mobilization Forces dragged bodies of ISIS fighters in the town of Qayyarah and in the city of Fallujah as soon as all of the eastern Mosul had been retaken by the Iraqi forces on January 24, 2017.[524]

Order of battle

Anti-ISIL forces


Commanded by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah (commander of the operation), Major General Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri (ISF commander of the operation)

 Iraqi Kurdistan

Commanded by President Massoud Barzani

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR)

Commanded by Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend

  • Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJFLCC-OIR)
    Commanded by Major General Joseph M. Martin[535]

 United States


 United Kingdom



Commanded by Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah



Military of ISIL

See also


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External links

  • Interactive Syria and Iraq map with current Mosul situation
  • ISIS Map
  • CNN report – 28 hours: Leading the Mosul attack,under fire then trapped

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

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