U.N. Says Over 100,000 Civilians Behind Isis Lines In Mosul
Over 100,000 civilians remain trapped behind Islamic State (ISIS) lines in Mosul with a U.S.-backed government offensive to recapture the Iraqi city entering its ninth month, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday (June 16).
“We know that ISIS moved them [civilians] with them as they left Zanjily and other locations where the fighting was going on, so these civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City,” said UNHCR representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo.
“It is really a very stark situation, because either way they are risking their lives. They are risking their lives if they stay, and they are risking their lives if they try to flee,” Geddo added.
The U.N. representative further said the fighting in Mosul may take some months because fighting is the Old City will be difficult and “devilishly” fierce.
The offensive to retake Mosul, Islamic State's (ISIS) de facto capital in Iraq, started on October 17 with key air and ground support from a U.S.-led international coalition.
Iraqi government forces regained eastern Mosul in January then a month later began the offensive on the western side that takes in the Old City, Mosul's historic district.
The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate" that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared in a speech from a historic mosque in the Old City three years ago, covering parts of Iraq and Syria