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Iran Press TV

UN chief in Iraq to review humanitarian situation amid rising war casualties

Iran Press TV

Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:57AM

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, to examine the humanitarian situation amid the country's intense campaign to purge Daesh Takfiri terrorists from the strategic city of Mosul.

"Just arrived in Iraq to focus on the dire humanitarian situation on the ground. Protection of civilians must be the absolute priority," a post on Guterres' official Twitter account said.

Guterres is scheduled to meet top Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi before heading to Arbil, the capital of the country's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in Mosul amid army clashes with the remaining Daesh terrorists in the western part of the city.

Apart from the civilians caught in the crossfire in west Mosul, over 200,000 civilians have fled their homes since the operation to recapture the areas started last month, Iraqi officials say.

The visit comes several days after a reported US-led airstrike left over 230 civilians dead in western Mosul.

On Tuesday, high-ranking US commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend admitted that there was a "fair chance" that a US-led airstrike caused the civilian deaths.

Meanwhile, the UN has called on the US-led coalition in Iraq to take further measures towards protecting civilians, while noting that Daesh was sending residents into buildings and areas which were the targets of airstrikes.

In a report, the UN's high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, also called on all forces engaged in anti-terror operations in Iraq to "avoid the trap" of hitting buildings in which Daesh has placed explosives and sent locals to take shelter.

He added that the terrorists "strategy of using children, men and women to shield themselves from attack is cowardly and disgraceful. It breaches the most basic standards of human dignity and morality."

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that since the campaign against western Mosul began on February 19, nearly 700 civilians have been killed in airstrikes which are mainly carried out by the US.

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