west Mosul sees nearly 100,000 civilians flee
Since February’s push to
retake west Mosul from jihadists, 97,000 people
displaced according to IOM.
Residents evacuating al-Nasser area
MOSUL - Nearly 100,000 people have poured
out of west Mosul in less than three weeks,
the IOM said Wednesday, as Iraqi forces
advance in their battle to retake the area
Iraqi security forces launched a major push
last month to recapture west Mosul, the most
populated urban area still held by the
Islamic State group with an estimated
750,000 residents when the battle began.
Iraqi special forces units and police have
made steady progress in the area, forcing IS
out of a series of neighbourhoods and
retaking important sites such as the
airport, Mosul museum, train station and
provincial government headquarters.
But the battle for west Mosul -- which is
smaller but more densely populated than the
eastern side which Iraqi forces recaptured
earlier this year -- has pushed a flood of
people to flee their homes.
Between February 25 and March 15, more than
97,000 people have been displaced from west
Mosul, the International Organization for
Migration said on its official Twitter
It marks an increase of around 17,000 from
the displacement figure the IOM released the
previous day, though this does not
necessarily indicate that all of those
additional people fled in the past 24 hours.
The IOM also said that Iraqi government
figures indicated a total of more than
116,000 people from west Mosul had gone
through a screening site south of the city.
Men, women and children carrying their
possessions sometimes walk for hours before
arriving at a security forces checkpoint.
From there they can take buses or pickup
trucks to camps after the men go through
initial screening aimed at identifying those
with IS ties.
Hajj Ahmed, a 55-year-old wearing a dark
coat over a traditional robe who had
recently fled Mosul, said that people were
living under IS siege.
- Advance west of Mosul -
"They have been besieging people for seven
days," Hajj Ahmed said, praising Iraq's
elite Counter-Terrorism Service for saving
"All the buildings have been destroyed over
our heads by the car bombs. Some families
are still stuck there," he said.
On the military front, Iraq's Joint
Operations Command announced that soldiers
and pro-government paramilitaries have
recaptured the entire Badush area, northwest
It is an area that includes Badush prison,
where Iraqi paramilitary forces said they
had uncovered a mass grave containing the
remains of hundreds of people executed by IS
after the jail was recaptured last week.
Both Human Rights Watch and the United
Nations have said that the jihadists killed
up to 600 inmates at a ravine near the
Iraqi soldiers and members of pro-government
paramilitary groups are fighting IS west of
Mosul, while CTS and the Rapid Response
Division -- a special forces unit operating
with members of the federal police -- are
spearheading the advance in inside the city.
In Mosul, CTS forces hunted for bombs left
by IS on Wednesday in areas that have
recently been recaptured.
CTS is conducting an "operation to clear and
search for bombs and explosives-rigged
cars," Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab
al-Saadi, one of the top commanders in the
"There is not any operation to advance and
attack new neighbourhoods in west Mosul
today," Saadi said.
Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi, another
CTS commander, also confirmed that the focus
on Wednesday was on searching and clearing
areas that had already been retaken.
IS overran large areas north and west of
Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by
US-led air strikes have since retaken most
of the territory they lost, launching the
operation to retake Mosul -- the country's
last IS-held city -- in October.
Middle East Online