Almost half a million Iraqis have fled Mosul fighting

As fighting in the months-long operation to liberate Islamic State's stronghold in Iraq has intensified recently, terrorists have been resorting to harsher tactics as Iraqi troops backed by Shia and Kurdish militias, as well as airstrikes from the US-led coalition, are closing in on the Old City.

In Iraq, Sudanese migrants are also being displaced in the fight to retake the city of Mosul from Daesh. "There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and representing al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri".

But an assault launched the following month on the part of Mosul that lies west of the Tigris river has seen a sharp rise in displacement.

Scores of civilians were killed this week in suspected us -led coalition airstrikes in western Mosul, now the subject of a major offensive to oust IS militants from the area, according to a local Iraqi NGO. The authorities are now setting their sights on the Tigris River which divides the city.

But since the bridges were closed on Friday, no aid convoy has reached the Hammam al-Alil camp, southwest of Mosul, the main arrival point for displaced fleeing the fighting, a camp and a United Nations official said.

"Mosul has pushed us to our operational limits", said Grande.

Officers in Iraq's Federal Police told Reuters that Islamic State shelled government forces with chemical weapons agents in the Urouba and Bab Jadid districts on Saturday.

The coalition has said it "probably" played a role in civilian casualties in Mosul, while residents have been caught up in fighting between Iraqi forces and IS, and the jihadists are intentionally attacking civilians in the city. He said the area will be cleared from militants soon.

A captain in the federal police said Sunday's advance had started in the early morning with troops fighting militants house to house.

March 25: Iraqi officials say air strikes in west Mosul killed scores of civilians.

  • Leroy Wright