By Gulsen Topcu
MOSUL (AA): A total of 4,500 civilians have fled northern Iraqi city of Mosul over the past three days as government forces launched the second phase of battles to retake the city form Daesh terrorists, an Iraqi aid official said Sunday.
Iyad Rafid of Iraqi Red Crescent told Anadolu Agency that civilians who fled from south and east of Mosul were settled in camps by the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration along with local and international aid agencies.
“1,500 civilians were placed in Hazir refugee camp while another 3,000 were settled in Al-Jad’ah camp [outskirts of Mosul],” he noted.
Daesh overran the city in 2014, making it one of its strongholds as it carved out swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Since the operation began last October, Iraqi forces have reportedly recaptured more than a quarter of Mosul, once considered Iraq’s second largest city in terms of population.
Humanitarian situation in the city was “dire” with food stockpiles dwindling and the price of staples spiraling since the beginning of the Mosul offensive, according to the UN refugee agency.
Meanwhile, head of the Iraq’s parliamentary committee for refugee affairs, Ra’ad al-Dahlaki, said last week that 145,000 civilians have fled the city since the beginning of the operation.
Despite initial expectations that the city would be retaken by year’s end, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in Dec. 2016 that at least three more months would be required to completely remove Daesh from Iraq.
[Archive Photo: Dislpaced Iraqis fleeing attak on Daesh at Kokchali neighbourhood of Mosul on 3 November 2016. Photographer: Yunus Keles/AA]