By the ISW Iraq Team
The ISF has continued to make significant progress in operations to recapture terrain from ISIS in Mosul. The ISF cleared the last ISIS-held neighborhood in eastern Mosul on January 24 and launched operations to recapture western Mosul on February 19. As of March 9, the ISF has cleared Mosul International Airport, the Ghazlani Military Base, the Ninewa Government Center, and several neighborhoods in western Mosul. Forces from the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), Emergency Response Division (ERD), and Federal Police (FP) have penetrated southern Mosul and are currently advancing towards the Old City in central Mosul.
Popular Mobilization Units’ (PMU) operations to clear Tal Afar, west of Mosul, and the Jazeera desert in western Ninewa have made marginal progress since November 2016 and are currently stalled. The PMU’s lack of urban clearing capabilities combined with political challenges regarding Iraqi Shi’a militias clearing a majority Sunni Turkmen city have slowed operations. The ISF are on track to clear western Mosul but security breaches in eastern Mosul and the heavy presence of Iraqi Shi'a militias in Ninewa raise serious concerns over the future stability of Ninewa and the future outbreak of sectarian and ethnic conflict.