57,000 civilians flee homes in western Mosul amid fierce clashes against IS
BAGHDAD, March 6 (PNA/Xinhua) — The ongoing operations to free the western side of the city of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) militants have pushed up to 57,000 civilians to flee their homes, the Iraqi government said on Sunday.
“Teams affiliated to the Iraqi ministry of migration have received more than 57,000 civilians” during the past 15 days of the military operation in the western side of Mosul, according to a statement by Jassim Mohammed al-Jaf, Minister of Migration and Displaced.
The migration ministry provided emergency supplies, including food and medicine to displaced people, Jaf said, adding that the Iraqi ministry is also ready to receive some 100,000 people in its camps near Mosul.
The total number of displaced civilians reached to 286,000 people since the beginning of major offensive to liberate Mosul on Oct. 17, Jaf added.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on Feb. 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River, which bisects the city.
Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against IS militants.
United Nations estimated that about 750,000 to 800,000 people still live in the western side of Mosul, which could be a challenge to the Iraqi forces as the troops enter the city’s narrow streets in the densely populated neighborhoods.
Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions. (PNA/Xinhua)