19 April, 2017
Almost half a million civilians have fled Mosul since the start of the campaign to free the city from Islamic State, new figures show, as the battle becomes bogged down in street-to-street fighting.
Iraqi forces forced Islamic State out of the eastern side of the city in January.
A member of the Iraqi forces takes position by an armored vehicle in the Old City of Mosul on April 16, 2017, during an offensive to recapture the city from Takfiri Daesh militants.
Food and water shortages continued in western Mosul in north Iraq, which has been cut off from its main supply route since November 2016, and remained largely inaccessible to aid workers, a United Nations spokesman said here Tuesday.
Iraq's army has built a new pontoon bridge over the Tigris river south of Mosul, after flooding blocked all crossing points, to create an escape route for families fleeing fighting between government forces and Islamic State.
"These shortages have likely been exacerbated by Daesh (Arabic acronym for the Islamic State)'s recent attacks on the Badush water treatment plant, western Mosul's largest functioning treatment plant", Dujarric said.
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Deliveries from Erbil, located some 80 km (50 miles) east in peaceful Iraqi Kurdistan, where aid agencies are based, had stopped due to the flooding. Nearly 330,000 people have fled Mosul since Iraq started an operation to expel Islamic State in October.
The UN estimates that as many as 500,000 people remain in ISIL-controlled districts in western Mosul, including 400,000 in the densely populated old city. They are being shot at, there are artillery barrages, families are running out of supplies, medicines are scarce and water is cut-off.
"Minutes ago, they launched an attack and we responded by shelling them with mortar rounds, killing two of them and their bodies were left in front of our defensive lines", he said.
This mosque is a prime target for the government forces for its symbolic value as it is the site where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate on June 29, 2014.
While officials are claiming some small gains near the ancient al-Nuri Mosque, the situation is largely unchanged in the past month, with intense, door-to-door fighting providing little opportunity for noticeable territory to change hands, and weeks often going by on the same couple of city blocks.
It is unclear how the two groups would work together, Allawi said.