The Iraqi army's recent battle to free the Ninawa province city of al-Qayyara from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) was accomplished without a wave of exodus and with minimal civilian casualties, officials tell Diyaruna.
Iraqi forces recaptured the city on August 23rd as more than 25,000 residents holed up in their homes, awaiting the end of the liberation operations.
The liberation of al-Qayyara, which is to the south of Mosul, was a "remarkable victory as it was achieved without displacing residents and without significant civilian casualties", Ninawa provincial council member Daoud Jundi told Diyaruna.
This was in part due to airdropped leaflets that instructed residents to stay indoors and away from ISIL posts ahead of the battle, he said.
The Ninawa Operations Command's sophisticated intelligence efforts also contributed greatly to the army's success, he added.
Residents provide information
Intelligence provided by local residents contributed to the completion of the liberation operation with the lowest possible losses or military errors, Jundi said.
"Residents formed intelligence pockets and constantly communicated with the security services to provide them with information on ISIL positions and the location of their vehicles and weapons caches," he said.
The army is likely to build on this success to carry out its anticipated Mosul liberation operation and avoid, as much as possible, the expected waves of displacement after the battles begin, he added.
After liberating al-Qayyara, the army facilitated the entry of large quantities of food and drinking water provided by the federal and local governments and the Iraqi Red Crescent, he said.
"What happened in al-Qayyara is the fruit of the co-operation between residents and security forces," said Ninawa tribal leader Sheikh Khalid al-Sabah al-Jabouri. "It is likely the experience will be repeated in the battle to liberate Mosul."
"Popular support was not limited to providing intelligence information during the battle," he told Diyaruna, noting that after the city's liberation, residents directed the Iraqi forces to ISIL headquarters, prisons and "sharia courts".
Heavy ISIL losses
The "swift and decisive victory" in al-Qayyara does not mean the battle was easy, said Ministry of Defence and Joint Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul.
"We were protecting residents on the one hand and causing heavy losses in lives and equipment to ISIL on the other," he told Diyaruna.
Around 700 ISIL elements were killed during the battle, he said, adding that security forces destroyed many car bombs and dismantled hundreds of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Iraqi forces also targeted ISIL rest houses and the command and control headquarters of the group's leaders, he said.
"These painful and co-ordinated strikes by the joint forces led to chaos in the ranks of the terrorist group, whose elements escaped with the advance of Iraqi forces," Rasul said.