Thousands of Iraqis Flee Heavy Fighting in Western Mosul

Iraqi forces backed by worldwide and United States aid launched a massive operation to retake Mosul on October 17.

It also said the use of chemical weapons had deteriorated the humanitarian situation in western Mosul, "where innocent civilians are already facing unimaginable suffering as a result of the ongoing conflict".

The ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has acknowledged the group's defeat in Iraq in a "farewell speech" and ordered his non-Arab fighters to either return to their countries or detonate themselves, according to media reports.

Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against IS militants.

The fighting in Mosul's west bank has raised concerns about the fate of the estimated 750,000 or more people trapped there with dwindling food supplies and little or no access to health services.

Most of the civilians who escaped Mosul in the past week have fled through the Mamun neighbourhood, west of Wadi Hajar, which is partially controlled by Iraq's special forces.

The main priorities, other than the first emergency response, included health, to ensure that children were immunized, primarily against measles and polio, said Mr. Vigneau.

The ICRC said its medical teams were supporting local medical staff treating the patients.

"We are very anxious about the fate of the tens of thousands of families still trapped inside of West Mosul", said Mr. Weiss.

The fighters are using suicide vehicle bombers, snipers and booby traps to counter the offensive waged by tens of thousands of Iraqi troops, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iranian-trained Shia paramilitary groups.

As Iraqi forces advanced on Mosul, IS is increasingly using drones to drop improvised explosive devices.

Then, five months ago, ISIS forced them out of their homes on the edge of the city and moved them into a vegetable market further inside the city: a tactic that provided the militants with human shields.

The clashes, which lasted several hours, pitted them against the YBS, which was set up there by the PKK after it came to the aid of the Yazidi population when the area was overrun by Islamic State in the summer of 2014.

"It's a struggle between two political parties but the victims are the Yazidis", said 19-year from the town of Khanasor where the clashes took place.

They are fleeing fighting and food shortages, but they face horrifying scenes as they leave. On Thursday they managed to get out.

  • Leroy Wright