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US Envoy Says IS 'Trapped' in Mosul

By VOA News March 12, 2017

U.S. and Iraqi authorities say Islamic State fighters are surrounded and contained in western Mosul, after Iraqi troops on Sunday seized control of the last road leading out of the city.

U.S. Envoy Brett McGurk, speaking Sunday in Baghdad, said "ISIS is trapped. ... Any of the fighters left in Mosul, they're going to die there." He also praised the U.S.-led air war at Mosul, calling it "the most precise air campaign in history. And it has been relentless." he said.

The envoy spoke as Iraqi General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah reported that elite troops of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service spearheaded a push toward the edges of Mosul's densely-populated, IS-controlled Old City.

State television on Friday said about half of western Mosul had been recaptured since Iraqi forces launched an offensive February 19 to liberate areas west of the Tigris River. That report placed most of the remaining jihadists either in the center of Mosul's Old City or in districts to the north.

Iraqi forces dislodged IS fighters from eastern Mosul in January.

The fighting has created a humanitarian crisis that United Nations and Iraqi refugee officials say could eventually force nearly half of the roughly 700,000 civilians remaining in western Mosul to flee.

Iraqi Migration and Displacement Minister Jassem al-Jaff said Sunday that nearly 100,000 civilians have already been displaced, including an estimated 12,000 people who fled to areas south and east of the city during a single 24-hour period on Saturday.

The U.N. Refugee Agency on Saturday estimated that 5,000 civilians have fled conflict areas each day since government forces began their push into western areas of the city three weeks ago.

An agency statement Saturday said the unrelenting influx of internal refugees has overwhelmed the government's capacity to screen refugees as they enter safe areas. It said some families are forced to wait days before resettlement screening is completed.

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