Iraqi forces dig in, but civil­ian safety con­cern slows progress

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OBITUARIES -

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.

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