U.N. Says 435,000 Civilians Displaced Since Start Of Western Mosul Offensive

U.N. Says 435,000 Civilians Displaced Since Start Of Western Mosul Offensive

The United Nations said 435,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the beginning of an offensive to liberate the western side of the city from Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

U.N. Secretary-General Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday (May 9) more than 403,000 Iraqis have currently been displaced from western Mosul.

Dujarric added some 31,000 people have been returned to the liberated areas of the city.

Iraqi forces opened a new front against the militants in the northwest of Mosul in an effort to push down into the handful of remaining districts held by ISIS, including the Old City.

The new push from the northwest began last week after other fronts in the city's southern districts stalled around the Old City where the iconic mosque from which ISIS leader Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi proclaimed a modern-day caliphate is located.

Dujarric said the United Nations humanitarian staff are concern about the hundreds of thousands of civilians who are still living in the area.

He added some 360,000 people are believed to be caught between the fighters.

“Families continue to arrive at the newly established mustering point at Badoush, northeast of Mosul, along the Syrian highway, where emergency assistance and basic services are being provided by humanitarian partners,” Dujarric said.

Trapped in a steadily shrinking area of the city, ISIS militants are fighting back with a barrage of suicide car bombs and snipers concealed amongst hundreds of thousands of civilians they are effectively holding hostage.

ISIS militants captured Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, when they swept across the country's north in the summer of 2014. Iraqi forces have gradually clawed back territory since then, and launched a massive operation to retake Mosul in October last year.