The Islamic State carried out two operations in Ninewa. First, a suicide bomber got into a house in the Jadida neighborhood in west Mosul, which the Golden Division was using as a headquarters and detonated his device. The bomber killed seven and wounded four. Later in the day the Iraqi forces (ISF) tried to cover up the incident claiming the bomber was killed and there were no casualties. To the southeast, 13 IS fighters were shot attempting to infiltrate the Qayara district from nearby Shirqat in Salahaddin. A gun battle ensued with three ISF injured, and all the insurgents eliminated. Every few days the militants have carried out an attack. So far, they are scattered and small scale, but they show that the group is still operating. It also shows they access to nearly every part of the province.
The ISF and IS are both awaiting the Tal Afar operation. The militants started digging a trench around the town. The Mosul police said that they were also moving people from the surrounding towns into Tal Afar itself to be used as human shields. An officer claimed that there were 2,500-3,000 fighters in the district, 90% of which were locals. He believed the fight would be easy because the insurgents had collapsed. Ninewa Operations Command head General Najm al-Jabouri disagreed, saying that it would be a tough battle. Jabouri changed his tune from just a few days ago. At the end of July, he was interviewed by Reuters and told them he believed there were 1,500-2,000 IS elements in Tal Afar, and that things would be over quickly because the militants had been demoralized. While IS will put up a fight, they are surrounded, and will eventually be overwhelmed whenever the campaign begins. The battle will likely follow the Mosul pattern with the Golden Division being in the lead supported by the armor of the army’s 9th Division with the Federal Police and Rapid Reaction police supporting and the Hashd taking care of the perimeter. Just as important will be what happens after the town is taken. The pro-Iran Hashd have wanted to take the town for months now. Not only do they feel like they need to protect the district’s Shiite Turkmen, but Tal Afar has been a historical way station for foreign fighters coming from Syria, and the home of many notable IS commanders. The Hashd may want to incorporate the area into its security zone it is building in western Ninewa, which means the Sunnis could be expelled. There is also the threat of revenge attacks as has happened throughout the governorate after areas have been freed.
The movement of people throughout Ninewa province continued, 1,077,444 people in total left their homes due to the fighting. Of those, 239,544 have returned, while 837,900 are still displaced. From July 31-August 1 367 families arrived in camps, and 131 departed. Many of the new arrivals are from Tal Afar and Baaj. The former is under bombardment before the attack on the town, while the latter is being emptied of people by the Hashd to create a security zone. Each day, 10-15 families return to the camps from Mosul because they couldn’t find a job, were driven out by high rents and prices, or were concerned about security. Prime Minister Haidar Abadi said he has worked out a plan for rebuilding and created a timetable for the return of displaced in the province. No details have been divulged however, which might mean no plan actually exists yet. The Displacement Ministry wants most people back in their home areas by the end of the year. The flow of people departing camps has not been much due to the reasons stated above. Until those factors start to change the current situation will remain largely the same.
Baghdad Post, "7 police officers killed, 4 injured in suicide attack southwest Mosul," 8/4/17
Bas News, “JGO Company Tasked with Clearing Mosul from Remnants of War,” 8/4/17
Al Ghad Press, “Daesh digging trenches around Tal Afar to block the attack of the Iraqi forces,” 8/4/17
- “Daesh urged inhabitants on the outskirts of Tal Afar to flee into the town to protect them,” 8/4/17
Kakawais, Halo, “Hashd’s participation in Tal Afar ops could be problematic,” 8/4/17
Masrawy, “Will the Battle of Tal Afar turn into a political quagmire in Iraq?” 8/4/17
Al Mayadeen, "Iraq: 7 civilians and military killed in a suicide bombing in new Mosul district of Mosul," 8/4/17
Al Noor News, “Security forces kill 13 Daesh members south of Mosul,” 8/4/17
Shafaaq News, "Suicide bomber targeting anti-terrorism forces headquarters killed west Mosul," 8/4/17
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update – 3 August 2017,” 8/3/17