UN secretary-general starts official visit to Iraq

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31 March, 2017

The attack came as US-backed forces are launching fierce fighting in western Mosul.

The UN chief said via Twitter that his main focus would be to focus on the dire humanitarian situation.

He will next visit Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

Islamic State overran about a third of Iraq in 2014, benefiting from the Sunni-Shi'ite rift that weakened the army.

"Iraq needs a plan similar to Marshall Plan to assist the people of Iraq and to support development to overcome impacts of the war against terrorist gangs", the statement added.

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Since the start of Mosul military operation in October, more than 350,000 people have fled the fighting, according to United Nations figures. Three policemen were among the dead while the rest were civilians, police and health officials, speaking on condition of anonymity under regulations.

More than a half-million civilians are still believed to remain in Islamic State-held areas of Mosul, with many of them used by Islamic State extremists as human shields as Iraqi forces advance.

The US-led coalition that has been carrying out strikes against IS says it "probably" played a role in reported civilian deaths in west Mosul. "We are in the final stage of liberating Mosul and our forces are exerting their utmost efforts to protect the civilians", Abadi said.

The truck bomb targeted a police checkpoint in southern Baghdad on Wednesday night, killing and wounding scores according to Iraqi officials.

Votel told a congressional committee that 490 Iraqi security personnel were killed and more than 3,000 wounded in the battle for east Mosul, while 284 have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded in fighting for the west.


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