In the battle for Mosul in Iraq, fighting the Islamic State is not simple or straightforward. The Islamist group does not have a problem with using the civilian population to achieve their ends. Without caring about the fact that they are putting innocent lives at risk, the Islamic State militants are hiding behind the civilian population. In Iraq the situation on the ground is good for Iraqi forces. They are moving closer to the Islamic State stronghold in Mosul. But the United States is accusing the Islamic state of using innocent civilians as human shields in order to make a direct attack difficult.
Operation to Take Back Mosul in Its Third Day
The operation to take back Mosul is in its third day. In the city, there are still up to 5,000 Islamic State fighters. But the civilian population counting 700,000 people that have not left the city is the concern. The operations of the Iraqi forces have to take great care to protect the civilians in the city.
As the Iraqi forces advance, there are conflicting reports. Initially, there was news that a nearby town, Qaraqosh, was liberated from the control of the Islamic State. However, later, a government commander denied that information.
So far, despite minor setbacks, the advance of the US-backed coalition is going well. Since the beginning of the campaign, this Monday, the coalition forces have been making progress. They have successfully driven the Islamic State militants out of ten villages.
Government forces are moving up on Mosul from the south. At the same time, the Kurdish allies are approaching the city from the east. The cooperating forces are going to move on the city from two directions.
There is a concern regarding the possibility of people fleeing in order to get out of the way of the conflict. Should there be an exodus of civilians, preparations have been made. The United States President Barack Obama said that there are “plans and infrastructure” ready for a potential humanitarian crisis.
The Islamic State Is Using the Civilian Population
This Tuesday, a spokesman for the Pentagon talked about the situation regarding the civilians in the area. Navy Captain Jeff Davis is certain that the Islamic State is using the civilian population as human shields.
“They are being held there against their will. We have not seen any change in the last day of people leaving or fleeing.”
Said Captain Jeff Davis.
Reports from the ground say that Islamic State militants are preventing civilians from fleeing the city. They also took the measure of directing some people towards buildings that could be the targets of air strikes from the coalition.
Currently, UN forces are working to establish several new refugee sites near Mosul. Lise Grande is the humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq for the United Nations. She says that the organization is operating on estimates of 200,000 potential refugees. The UN is taking into account the possibility that as many people as that might need to leave the city and seek shelter.
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