In excess of 140 civilians have been killed in six days while trying to flee western Mosul, according to military sources. At least seven civilians were killed and 23 wounded by Daesh mortar shells as they tried to flee Mosul's militant-controlled Zanjili district on Thursday, Iraqi police said.
During Tuesday's airstrikes, 70 civilians were reported to have died. U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces retook eastern Mosul in January and began a new push on Saturday to capture the enclave where about 200,000 people are trapped, regularly dropping leaflets telling families to flee.
The Mosul offensive, now in its eighth month, has taken much longer than expected, with Iraqi government advances slowed by the need to avoid civilian casualties. When Daesh captured Mosul back in 2014, the Iraqi government faced criticism for being unable to defend one of its largest cities. The oil-rich city fell to Daesh easily as the Iraqi troops avoided clash and fled posts, abandoning their weapons.
Today, several groups are cooperating on the ground, but primarily due to international pressure and the U.S. handling of military operations. Interestingly, they had exist during Mosul's fall too, as the Iraqi army unlike other regular armed forces, consisted of several armed groups with different ethnic and sectarian backgrounds and it is a known fact that these groups do not like each other. The battle, however, will not probably end soon and its costs, especially the humanitarian one, will increase.
On average, some 4,000 civilians have fled the city every day and 176,000 people in total have been displaced since the Mosul offensive began, the United Nations said.
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