Thursday, November 17, 2016

Mosul Iraq Battle: Bad Weather Slows Advance Inside City
17 November 2016
BBC World Service

Iraqi forces have paused their advance into Mosul due to bad weather, a month after launching an offensive to retake the city from so-called Islamic State.

A general said poor visibility was limiting the ability of aircraft to provide cover, adding that troops would secure eastern areas they had entered.

IS militants were putting up fierce resistance, using snipers, booby traps and suicide car bombs.
Seven civilians were reportedly killed by mortar fire in one recaptured area.

Mosul, which was captured by IS in June 2014, is the jihadist group's last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

About 50,000 Iraqi security forces personnel, soldiers, police, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen are involved in the offensive.

In the first two weeks of the operation, they advanced rapidly from the east and south-east, seizing outlying towns and villages despite strong resistance.

Seven civilians were also reportedly killed and 35 wounded by IS mortar fire in Samah.

On 1 November, special forces and army units entered the eastern outskirts of the city at two points and were able to establish footholds there.

Two weeks later, progress towards the centre is slow, reports the BBC's Richard Galpin in Irbil.

IS has not shown any sign of weakening, our correspondent adds, and is using snipers and large numbers of suicide bombers to pin down troops in densely populated areas where manoeuvring armoured vehicles is not easy.

The militants are also reported to be using civilians as human shields.

And forces advancing from the north and south have still not entered the city.

Our correspondent says that unless there is a sudden collapse in the resistance now being put up by IS, the battle for Mosul is likely to continue for weeks.

The UN has warned that in areas retaken by Iraqi forces, civilian infrastructure such as water and power plants, schools and hospitals are damaged and medical services are often unavailable.

Families are going hungry due to lost livelihoods, disrupted food production and supply, and food prices are rising at markets, it said.

Many people are being forced to drink untreated water from wells, while children are going unvaccinated and are unable to go to school.

Almost 59,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, about 26,000 of them children. More than 40,000 have found shelter in formal camps, while 13,000 others have been taken in by host communities or are living in public facilities.

As many as one million people could be at risk in the combat zone itself.

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