After 267 days, the end of the battle of Mosul was announced on July 10th. “Liberation” is a misleading notion, because the hostilities have not stopped, the human suffering has not stopped.
There are still victims in the city every day on both sides.
Many refugees have no home to go back to and are suffering from severe mental health problems, especially the children.
No reason to celebrate
Were inter alia destroyed:
- 9 of the 10 major hospitals.
- 76 of the 98 medical centres.
- 6 big bridges across the Tigris.
- three-quarters of Mosul’s roads,
- 400 educational institutions, including schools, universities and education centres.
- 11,000 residential housing units.
- 4 electrical power plants and 65 percent of its electrical network
- 6 water purifying systems and much of the city’s water infrastructure has been booby trapped.
- The pharmaceutical industrial complex.
- All grain stores.
- Two large dairies.
- 212 oil refineries, petrol and fuel stations.
- All public buildings
- All state and private banks.
- 63 religious centres (churches and mosques), most of them valuable historical sites.
- 250 workshops, factories and small factories, including agro-industries.
- 29 hotels
- More than 40,000 civilian casualties
- 38 out of 54 residential areas in West Mosul are destroyed. A staff director in the office of the Nineveh governor, said that “while eastern Mosul is half-destroyed, the devastation in the western half is much greater”. A member of a local volunteer group said that the destruction in west Mosul is close to “99 percent.”
And in the rest of Iraq, the humanitarian and security situation remains disastrous.
- 11 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, of which 5.1 million children (OCHA, September 2017)
- More than one million people have been displaced since the military operations to recapture the city of Mosul since October 2016, with about three quarters of West Mosul since April. While 1.95 million people have returned to their residences, 3.2 million people remain internally displaced in Iraq and need humanitarian aid.
- Since June 2014 there were 138 attacks on schools and 58 attacks on hospitals
- More than 3 million children attend school irregularly, while 1.2 million children do not go to school at all. How many more lost generations will this war produce?
The extent of civilian casualties, the massive destruction of American bombs, missiles and artillery and the use by the American army of white phosphorus, a weapon that is internationally forbidden for use in populated areas, are all serious US war crimes.
Little international attention for civilian victims
The catastrophic number of civilian deaths in Mosul receives little international attention from politicians and journalists. This is in stark contrast to the global outrage of the bombing of East Aleppo by the Syrian government and the Russian troops at the end of 2016.
It is believed that more than 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the massive firepower that was used against them, especially by the federal police, air attacks and ISIS itself.
Neither ISIS nor the international coalition, neither the Iraqi government nor the United Nations, provide accurate information about numbers of victims, while groups such as Airwars largely focus on press reports. Airwars estimates that 5.805 civilians have been killed between 19 February and 19 June 2017. However, as always, press reports only cover a fraction of the actual number of deaths.
Mosul, one of the world’s largest cemeteries
People are trying to understand why the death toll in Mosul is so high. A solid explanation can be read in a shocking report by Amnesty International (AI): “At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul”.
This report does not provide a precise figure of the number of deaths, but it confirms the terrible damage that was caused by continuous artillery and rocket fire for a period of five months in a closed area with civilians who were unable to escape.
Other reports from Mosul state that the Civil Defense Unit has already removed more than 2.000 bodies from the rubble. Most victims are reportedly women and children. It is believed that more than 4.000 bodies are buried under the rubble in West Mosul. According to the US, the Joint Operations Command, approximately 1,400 bodies were already excavated. The head of the civil defense unit, Lt. Kol. Rabia Ibrahim Hassan, told the Washington Post that he had asked the government for more equipment and resources, but that he had not received any response.
During the fighting to recapture Ramadi and Fallujah – the previous military campaigns – most residents fled or evacuated before the fighting. However, many Moslawis (Mosul residents) remained in their homes, making the operation much more complicated. Some stayed because ISIS killed the people who tried to escape, some remained because they refused to leave their homes or relatives, some because they had some kind of work, but many remained because the government asked them to. The army threw leaflets from helicopters asking residents not to flee.
The reason was not only because they feared that the flow of refugees would be unmanageable in a country where already 3.4 million people were displaced by the war. This decision was mainly based on the view of the generals who thought to be able to use the citizens in their favour. If the Iraqi forces were to treat the Moslawis well, people would probably help the troops, give information about ISIS, and it would also give good publicity about “the Salvation efforts of the Iraqi Army.”
Death toll of Iraqi soldiers
Premier Haider al Abadi organized a victory parade in Baghdad on Saturday, July 15, where Iraqi armed forces marched before his eyes in the strictly protected Green Zone of the capital. It is a sign for the state of the country that the parade was not publicly announced due to security issues, that the media only came to know later and that the people of the city were excluded from the ‘festivities’. But there was no real reason for celebration because of the enormous losses suffered by Iraqi forces.
The Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), an American trained unit, the elite armed forces of Iraq, has lost 40 percent of its people in the struggle for Mosul. While the Baghdad government has always refused to disclose its military losses, this figure was reported by the US Department of Defense, which calls for $ 1,269 billion to rebuild the unit over the next three years and train 20,000 staff members.
“The requested funding will be essential for the reconstruction of the CTS combat force that has lost 40 percent in Mosul,” according to the sentence in the budget proposal. “These funds will be used to replace vehicles and equipment through combat loss while staff will be trained and equipped to restore this military unit in the context of ongoing conflicts.”
About the losses in other units, such as the Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Forces and the regular combat troops, little is known. There are indications that the losses of the regular armed forces are greater than those of the CTS. If this may be an indication