Camps set up as Iraqis flee Mosul
Army’s message as Mosul operation continues
A senior Iraqi general called on his countrymen fighting for ISIS in Mosul to surrender as a wide-scale operation to retake the militant-held city entered its third day.
Lt Gen Talib Shaghati told reporters at a military base yesterday that up to 6,000 ISIS fighters are inside the city. He did not say how many of them are foreigners.
The terror group captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in a lightning advance in the summer of 2014, but has suffered a string of defeats over the past year and Mosul is its last major urban bastion in Iraq.
The militants have put up fierce resistance in villages surrounding the city, where most of the fighting has been concentrated. ISIS has sent trucks loaded with explosives careening toward the front lines and fired mortars to slow the Iraqi forces’advance.
An Iraqi officer from the 9th Division told said that his troops were now 1km away from Hamdaniyah, a historically Christian town also known as Bakhdida, to the east of Mosul.
Over the previous day, ISIS sent 12 car bombs, all of which were blown up before reaching their targets, he said, adding that Iraqi troops suffered a small number of casualties from the mortar rounds. The advance by Iraqi forces comes as residents begin fleeing the embattled city.
Save the Children said 5,000 people have fled to a refugee camp in northeastern Syria from the Mosul area in the past 10 days, with another thousand waiting to enter at the border.
The group said the overwhelmed camp is “littered with waste and faeces, with a looming risk of outbreaks of disease”.
It said there are just 16 latrines shared by more than 9,000 people, many of whom only have access to dirty, untreated water.
“Conditions there are among the worst we’ve seen, and we expect thousands more people to be on their way soon,” said Tarik Kadir, head of the group’s Mosul response.
The operation to retake Mosul is the largest launched by the Iraqi army since the 2003 US-led invasion. About 25,000 troops, including Sunni tribal fighters, Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga and state-sanctioned Shia militias known as the Popular Mobilisation Units are approaching the city from different directions.
‘Conditions are among the worst we’ve seen and we expect more people’
– Save the Children, which said 5,000 have fled Mosul to a refugee camp in the past 10 days