Mosul Offensive // October 18

Yesterday morning we woke up to news that the Iraq PM had officially declared the start of the campaign to liberate Mosul while we were sleeping. Before I finished my morning coffee Peshmerga and Iraqi forces had already taken a number of towns and villages outside Mosul and had already pronounced their first casualties dead. We made preparations in the morning and made it out to the north-east rim of the front by midday.

The sky was black with smoke and the taste of powder and sounds of air strikes were reverberating through the Nineveh plains. By mid afternoon, the flanking operations for the day were already almost done and dusted. After connecting with commanding officers about where we could be of most use in a medical capacity we drove to a more southern side of the front to connect up with Peshmerga units from the area that we live.

Our medic embedded there in Bashiqa (see the pin drop in the photo below) late afternoon and will remain on the ground throughout the first week of the operation while we await the arrival of the rest of our team next week. Our aim at this stage is to maintain and grow a medical presence for the next 3 weeks during the intensity of the initial staging campaigns. After these first 3 weeks we will assess and decide how to proceed.

Our assignment and intention in this season is to serve and bless our neighbors: Kurdish Peshmerga. We are not here in a combat capacity and we are not supporting the broader offensive. We are here to help our Kurdish brothers who will be injured (and killed if not cared for) during the flanking and staging offensives. The Iraqi forces from the south (Iraq proper) will make the advance inside the city day, weeks or months from now once the perimeter around Mosul is secure and ISIS is weakened. This will also bleed out the city of militants who will flee Mosul west towards Syria which will reduce the number of Iraqi casualties when they enter the now disintegrating caliphate. Peshmerga will carry out the campaigns on the east side of the city in the coming weeks and hold the borders secure throughout and after the assault on Mosul.

Once the Peshmerga have completed their objectives and the campaign shifts from these flanking initiatives to urban warfare inside the city, our team will prioritize relief ministry for the potentially 1 million (more) internally displaced people who will flee their tattered city for the safety and refuge of Kurdistan where refugee camps for hundreds of thousands of people are still being built. By that time, winter will be beginning and the humanitarian crisis will come to a head. Our mode of operation will evolve from primarily serving Peshmerga to focusing on refugees from the Mosul operation. With that said, we desire to maintain a perpetual connection with Peshmerga to serve them well beyond the immediate needs of this present season.

We are grateful for your love and prayer for Kurdistan. We will keep you updated as things develop.