Scale Of Civilians Fleeing Iraq's Mosul 'Staggering'

Noting that almost half a million people have fled Mosul since the start of military operations to retake the city from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) terrorists, a senior United Nations humanitarian official in Iraq warned that the scale of the displacement has stretched relief efforts to their "operational limits".

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

The militants are now surrounded in northwestern Mosul, using booby traps, sniper and mortar fire against the assailants.

'If there is a siege and hundreds of thousands of people don't have water and don´t have food, they will be at enormous risk, ' United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande told Reuters in a telephone interview.

As many as half a million are estimated to remain overall in neighborhoods still under control of the militants in western Mosul, the organization said in a statement on Monday.

An Iraqi woman carries a girl as she walks along a pontoon bridge over the Tigris river on the outskirts of Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq, April 17, 2017.

ISIS is talking to al-Qaeda about a possible alliance as Iraqi troops close in on ISIS fighters in Mosul, Iraqi vice president Ayad Allawi said in an interview on Monday.

Long queues formed at the new bridge on Tuesday with families crossing in public buses, trucks and taxis.

Deliveries from Erbil, located some 80 km (50 miles) east in peaceful Iraqi Kurdistan, where aid agencies are based, had stopped due to the flooding.

However, a military spokesperson of government forces has claimed that they have gained some fresh ground. "Families. tell us that they are being shot at as they are escaping". It is targeting the Grand al-Nuri mosque, from where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Isis leader, proclaimed his "caliphate" in June 2014, which would be an important symbolic victory.

"I don't know exactly when, but there are discussions and dialogues between messengers", he said, adding that it's not clear how the two groups will work together.

  • Joey Payne