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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN: Mosul Civilians in 'Extreme Danger' as Anti-IS Battle Continues

By VOA News July 06, 2017

As many as 20,000 civilians are trapped and in "extreme danger" in Mosul as the Iraqi military attempts to remove the last remaining Islamic State jihadists in the city, a United Nations official is quoted as saying.

"Our estimate at this stage is that in the final pockets of (Mosul's) Old City, there could be as many as 15,000 civilians, possibly even as high as 20,000," Lise Grande, a U.N. humanitarian official in Iraq, told AFP.

Grande said those left are "in extreme danger from bombardment, from artillery cross-fire."

"The (IS) fighters that are still there are still directly targeting civilians if they try and leave," she said.

The battle in Mosul so far has forced more than 900,000 people to flee their homes, with about 700,000 still displaced.

Iraqi soldiers have been pushing further into the city. IS fighters, who once held a tight hold on Mosul, now control only a small portion of land along the Tigris river.

Since October, an assault on the city by Iraqi forces has decimated the group's numbers.

Last week, Iraqi forces retook control of a destroyed historic mosque in Mosul, where three years ago the head of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of a caliphate.

On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated the Iraqi military on a "big victory in Mosul," although fighting is still fierce in the city.

"Praise be to God, we managed to liberate (Mosul) and proved the others were wrong, the people of Mosul supported and stood with our security forces against terrorism," the prime minister said, as he praised the army.

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