Civil­ians trapped as noose tight­ens in Mo­sul

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - MEL FRYKBERG

AS THE bat­tle for west Mo­sul nears its end, Is­lamic State (IS) militants holed up in the old city are putting up a fierce fight and re­port­edly us­ing Iraqi civil­ians as hu­man shields.

Re­port­ing the news has also come at a high cost, with two jour­nal­ists killed and sev­eral oth­ers wounded, in a land­mine blast as Iraq’s forces pushed deeper into the last re­main­ing strong­hold of the IS.

Kur­dish re­porter Bakhti­yar Ad­dad, who was work­ing with a French team as a fixer and in­ter­preter, suc­cumbed to his wounds yes­ter­day af­ter Mon­day’s ex­plo­sion, ac­cord­ing to pub­lic broad­caster France Tele­vi­sion and global jour­nal­ist rights watch­dog Re­porters With­out Borders.

Com­ment­ing on Ad­dad’s death, The Metro Cen­tre for Jour­nal­ists Rights and Ad­vo­cacy said that “one more jour­nal­ist be­came a vic­tim to spread­ing the truth”.

Ad­dad had been wounded three times pre­vi­ously as he cov­ered the war in Mo­sul.

The sur­viv­ing jour­nal­ists were taken to a hospi­tal on a US mil­i­tary base.

Mean­while, the grow­ing plight of the more than 100 000 civil­ians still trapped in Mo­sul has alarmed the UN and the International Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Ac­cord­ing to the UN, there have been nu­mer­ous re­ports of IS fa­nat­ics us­ing those still trapped in west Mo­sul as hu­man shields.

The UN said it be­lieved that up to 150 000 civil­ians were still trapped in har­row­ing con­di­tions in Mo­sul’s Old City where IS fight­ers were bat­tling ad­vanc­ing Iraqi forces and shoot­ing at any­one try­ing to flee as part of a tac­tic to keep them as hu­man shields.

Lise Grande, the UN’s hu­man­i­tar­ian chief, said the con­di­tions of the civil­ians were des­per­ate and they would prob­a­bly all try to es­cape.

There were fur­ther re­ports of IS men weld­ing the doors of civil­ian homes shut in an ef­fort to pre­vent them from try­ing to es­cape. The ICRC has also voiced its con­cern, say­ing that tens of thou­sands of civil­ians re­mained trapped as mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in­ten­si­fied in the densely pop­u­lated old town.

“It is cru­cial that wounded civil­ians in the con­flict areas be evac­u­ated with­out de­lay to the near­est med­i­cal fa­cil­ity,” said the ICRC’s Head of Del­e­ga­tion in Iraq, Katha­rina Ritz.

The flow of wounded civil­ians out of west Mo­sul has in­creased in re­cent days. About 90% of vic­tims seen by the ICRC’s sur­gi­cal team have wounds from gun­shots, shelling, and bombs.

“We’re see­ing dozens of new pa­tients a day, in­clud­ing chil­dren and the el­derly. For a heart­break­ingly high num­ber, it was sim­ply too late; they died soon af­ter reach­ing us,” said Ju­lia Schurch, an ICRC emer­gency room spe­cial­ist de­ployed in west Mo­sul.

A spe­cial ICRC re­port on ur­ban war­fare re­leased last week found that civil­ian deaths due to armed con­flict in­side cities in Syria, Ye­men and Iraq amounted to 47% of all civil­ians killed world­wide in armed con­flicts.

The ICRC has been pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to the af­fected pop­u­la­tion since the start of the Mo­sul op­er­a­tion.

Iraqi sol­diers eat their meal along the road be­side their ar­moured fight­ing ve­hi­cles in western Mo­sul. PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.