Civilians Complicate Final Phase of Mosul Campaign: US Commander

Officials Complain ISIS Moving Civilians Around to 'Bait' Them

Eight months into the US-backed Iraqi invasion of Mosul, the battle continues to rage. With no signs of resolution, the US is looking for a scapegoat, and the latest indications from commanders are that the scapegoat is the civilian population of Mosul, who they say are “complicating” the battle.

Every time the US blow up a block of civilian residences, they have to deal with the large death toll that follows. They try to blame ISIS for “moving them around,” but that’s not really sticking, let alone excusing the large numbers being killed. In the meantime, the presence of so many civilians is a real hassle for an invading force.

Of course,  at the start of the Mosul invasion, leaflets were dropped by Iraqi and US forces warning the civilians explicitly not to flee, and suggesting those who tried would be targeted by airstrikes as assumed ISIS fighters trying to abandon the battlefield.

But that was eight months ago, officials predicted victory long ago, that never came, and are now dealing with the problem of trying to feed the population in the middle of a protracted battle. Iraqi officials in the past couple of months have even made a point to slow their advance and try to help the civilians flee.

This has problems too, as in combat areas, the civilians are often unable to get out of the area. Even where they can, the civilians are struggling to find refugee camps that aren’t over-filled,, as the previous order not to leave meant officials made no formal effort to prepare such camps, leaving it up to NGOs, who mostly just assumed the refugees would be from the outskirts, not an entire city of over a million people.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of