A high-profile NGO says more than 200,000 civilians have been displaced since the onset of the operation to liberate the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
In a report released Sunday, the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the total number of those displaced from Mosul since October 2016 has surpassed 206,000.
The Iraqi army, backed by allied popular fighters, launched the Mosul liberation battle in mid-October 2016, and managed to claw back the eastern half of the city some 100 days later in January.
Late last month, they began engaging the terrorists in the western side of Mosul, the Daesh terror group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq.
The IOM further said the number included 45,000, who have fled the western sector of Mosul since February to the sites set up for the displaced.
On March 3, the UN refugee agency reported that about 4,000 people are escaping Mosul’s embattled west on a daily basis.
As a strategy to hold onto Mosul, Daesh has been using civilians as human shields to slow Iraqi army advances.
- Tunnels found at former Daesh camp in Mosul
- Daesh shells eastern Mosul with chlorine gas
- Iraqi forces recapture two villages north of Mosul
According to the civilians who have managed to flee Mosul, the Takfiri terrorists have resorted to brutal executions or inhuman torture tactics to prevent people from escaping the city or cooperating with government troops.
Second Mosul bridge under army control
On Sunday, Major General Haider al-Maturi of the Federal Police Commandos Division told The Associated Press that the troops were facing the heaviest clashes yet since the start of the push to liberate the western side.
The terrorists sent at least six explosives-laden cars towards the troops, which were all destroyed before reaching them, he noted.
Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), also told state-run television that the forces were advancing from the south and the southwest toward the heart of Mosul.
In the latest gain against Daesh, Iraqi forces took control of Mosul’s al-Hurriya Bridge, which leads to Daesh-held old city center from the south.
This is the second bridge taken back from the terror group since the start of the Iraqi offensive on Mosul’s western front on February 19.
There are five bridges over Tigris River, which divides Mosul in the two halves. All of them have been destroyed by Daesh, but their recapture and reconstruction would help facilitate the new Iraqi army push.