Iraqi forces dig in, but civilian safety concern slows progress
Iraqi troops on Sunday fortified their positions in Mosul neighborhoods retaken from the Islamic State group as their advance toward the city center was slowed by sniper fire and suicide bombings, as well as concern over the safety of civilians.
“The biggest hindrance to us is the civilians, whose presence is slowing us down,” Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the special forces told The Associated Press. “We are soldiers who are not trained to carry out humanitarian tasks.”
A few hundred civilians emerged from rubble-strewn front-line neighborhoods on Sunday. They included women and children, some of them carrying bags, small suitcases or waving white flags. Mosul is still home to more than 1 million people.
The government sent a half-dozen trucks loaded with food aid into the recently liberated areas. Chaos broke out in one neighborhood, where residents climbed on top of the trucks and began helping themselves.