Safe Return



Summary: The main security incident during this reporting period was the rocket attack that targeted bases for the Iraqi and coalition forces in the palaces compound in Mosul, which is thought to be connected to the ongoing escalation between Iran and the United States. In related developments, information from our local monitors indicated that locals critical of Iran and the popular mobilization forces (PMF) were facing harassment from some PMF units. Meanwhile, there was one militant attack in which one civilian was killed and another was wounded, while seven school children were injured in an explosion whose causes remain to be confirmed. This week, the Iraqi security forces conducted three operations in which they freed a kidnapped civilian and arrested several terrorism suspects and wanted individuals.

Note: locations are approximate

Security Incidents

On January 4, at least ten Katyusha rockets struck the presidential palaces compound in northeast Mosul, which includes bases for Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition. There were no reports on casualties among Iraqi or coalition forces present in the area.

On January 4, the Ninewa police succeeded in freeing a man in his fifties who had been kidnapped the previous day and also arrested three of his captors. The kidnapping was reportedly motivated by demand for ransom. The arrest took place in the Faysaliya neighborhood of east Mosul.

On January 5, one of our local monitors said that PMF (brigade 30) were monitoring social media postings and on January 3 arrested a number of people who had voiced their approval of the U.S. airstrike that killed Qassim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. One of the people arrested was a young man from the village of Baibokht near Bashiqa. He was beaten by PMF personnel before being released.

On January 6, a security checkpoint arrested a terrorism suspect south of Mosul who is thought to have been a member of the ISIS Hisba organization during its occupation of Mosul. The security forces also arrested three other suspects wanted on court warrants at the Aqrab checkpoint on the Baghdad road.

On January 8, unidentified militants opened fire at two civilians in al-Hadhar south of Mosul. One of the civilians was killed while the other was wounded.

On January 8, one of our local monitors said that an explosion occurred at a school in the North Garage area in east Mosul, wounding seven students. The cause of the explosion has not been confirmed. The monitor’s information indicated that burning trash in the school yard may have set off an old IED or unexploded remnant of war, while the local police said the trash fire caused some “empty cans” to explode.

On January 9, the Ninewa police and counter-terrorism force arrested a terrorism suspect thought to have worked as an ISIS fighter and informant during its occupation of Mosul. The arrest took place in the Ghizlani are in west Mosul.

Officially launched in June 2019, Ninewa-ISHM and Security Bulletins utilize information collected from community-based monitors; Iraq-based Arabic, Kurdish, and English news sources; data from aid agencies; and social media posts, verified and fact-checked by EPIC’s research team. This weekly bulletin is part of Safe Return, a project to support the safe and voluntary return of IDPs who have survived severe human rights abuses to their homes in Ninewa. Safe Return is made possible with the generous support of the American people through USAID in partnership with Heartland Alliance International.

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