No escape: IS-boats sunk as Mosul "emirate" crumbles

No escape: IS-boats sunk as Mosul "emirate" crumbles
Members of the extremist group are attempting to leave the war-torn Iraqi city by boat. But Iraqi forces are aware of the desperate tactic and lie in wait
3 min read
21 January, 2017
Iraqi forces are closing in on victory in Mosul [AFP]
Iraqi aircraft carried out a series of intense air raids targeting areas of Mosul still held by the Islamic State as militants from the extremist group attempt to flee the Iraqi city by boat on Saturday.

A source from the Iraqi army’s Nineveh Operations Command told The New Arab’s Iraqi correspondent Baraa al-Shammari that Iraqi planes were targeting the Rashidiya, Beysan, and Qoosiyat neighbourhoods of the city, the last remaining strongholds of the group that are located close to the "right" banks of Tigris river.

A separate security source from the Saraya Jihad, a faction within the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia said that the group had targeted nine boats carrying IS fighters attempting to leave Mosul, killing 20 members of the group near Tal Afar. 

On Friday the Iraqi army announced the liberation of Mosul’s Free Trade zone in the south of the city only two days after announcing that Iraqi forces had taken “full control” of the entire eastern side of Mosul, with IS fighters increasingly pushed back into defensive positions in the war-torn city. 

Key dates in battle for Mosul

Battle for Mosul Begins

- October 17, 2016: Iraqi forces launch a drive to force IS out of Mosul, where the group declared an Islamic caliphate in June 2014.

IS overran Mosul and swathes of other territory north and west of Baghdad in 2014, sweeping aside security forces ill-prepared to face the assault.

Around 30,000 troops from army, police and counter-terrorism units are thrown into the long-awaited counter-attack with air and ground support from the US-led coalition.

By the end of October, the army has recaptured the Christian village of Qaraqosh, 15 kilometres (10 miles) from Mosul. Dozens of other nearby towns are retaken within two weeks.

Entering Mosul

- November 1, 2016: The army says it has entered Mosul itself for the first time since June 2014.

- November 3: IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi breaks a year-long silence to urge his fighters to defend Mosul to the death, and the advance of Iraqi forces begins to slow down.

- November 8: Kurdish Peshmerga fighters say they have reached Bashiqa, a dozen kilometres (about eight miles) north of Mosul.

- November 13: Iraq says it has recaptured Nimrud, an ancient city southeast of Mosul.

- November 23: Shia-dominated paramilitary units known as Hashed al-Shaabi say they have cut IS supply lines between Mosul and Raqa, the self-declared jihadist capital 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the west in Syria.

Change of tactics

- December 27, 2016: Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Iraqi forces need another three months to eliminate IS fighters putting up stiff resistance with car bombs, mortar attacks and sniper fire.

- December 29: Government troops end a two-week pause by launching the second phase of their offensive with a change of military tactics.

Tigris beachhead

- January 8, 2017: Iraqi units reach the Tigris River that divides Mosul and take up positions near one of the city's five bridges, which have been knocked out one by one in air strikes.

- January 14: CTS units take control of the sprawling campus of Mosul University.

The United Nations puts the number of displaced persons at over 125,000 since the offensive began, of which some 14,000 have been able to move back into their homes. The number of estimated military casualties has yet to be released.

Halfway there

- January 18: General al-Sheghati announces "the liberation... of the left bank" of the Tigris River, two days after Iraqi forces reach the iconic Nabi Yunus shrine, also known as "Jonah's tomb" and which IS destroyed in 2014.