Since Iraqi government forces launched the push to take the western half of Mosul from the Daesh terrorist group last week, about 8,000 people have fled from that part of the city and surrounding villages, the U.N. humanitarian aid agency said yesterday. The agency, known as OCHA, said it is expanding displacement camps to cope with the increasing numbers of those fleeing Mosul.
With the support of the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces began the operation to retake western Mosul on Feb. 19, and have so far captured the city's international airport and a sprawling military base next to it as well some neighborhoods from the southern edge. Iraq declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in January, after three months of fierce fighting.
The people fleeing western Mosul are "often exhausted and dehydrated," the OCHA statement said, adding that an estimated 250,000 people could flee the fighting in the coming days. It also noted "high" trauma casualty rates from western Mosul, with at least 75 civilians treated near the front lines over the past week and warned the situation for the estimated 750,000 civilians remaining in western Mosul "is desperate" as supply lines have been cut off, in particular the highway from Mosul into neighboring Syria. The offensive to capture Mosul is the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011. Iraq's second-largest city has been under Daesh rule for more than two years and remains the Daesh's last urban stronghold in Iraq.
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