Mosul op has displaced almost half a million

"The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul city is staggering", Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said in a statement.

US soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division fire artillery in support of Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State militants from their base east of Mosul on Monday, April 17, 2017.

Almost half a million people have fled their homes since Iraqi forces launched an operation to wrest Mosul back from jihadists exactly six months ago, the United Nations said Monday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi also denied last month's reports about the chemical attack in the northern city of Mosul.

Shaker added that the Takfiri terrorists were killed on Monday as security personnel were advancing in al-Farouq district near the Grand al-Nuri Mosque.

The Syrian government and its Russian ally denied that the Syrian military was behind the attack and said a Syrian airstrike struck a hidden chemical weapons facility used by rebel groups, resulting in the deadly discharge that killed dozens of civilians. While admitting that battles in the western side of Mosul proved more hard that those in the east, Iraqi and coalition commanders said IS's influence was receding as many top leaders were either counted dead or tracked escaping the battlefield.

Raed Shaker Jawdat, head of the Iraqi federal police, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the forces advanced towards the remaining Old City since the early morning hours and that the police snipers are laying control over the region surrounding al-Nuri mosque.

She added, "Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul".

"The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul city is staggering", Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, said in a statement.

The initial operation to liberate Iraq's second largest city began exactly six months ago on October 16.

The UN estimated that another half million civilians were still in ISIS-controlled areas of west Mosul.

Food, water and medicine are running low in western Mosul where fighting is much heavier than in the eastern part of the city which was declared "fully liberated" by the Iraqi government in January. "We are expected to liberate the area today", he said.

  • Leroy Wright