United Nations chief makes global aid appeal for civilians fleeing Mosul

"We don't have the resources necessary to support these people", Guterres told reporters during a visit to the Hassan Sham Camp, one of several centres outside Mosul packed with civilians escaping the fighting. "Protection of civilians must be the absolute priority", Guterres wrote on Twitter.

A statement issued by Abadi's press office on Thursday said that the Iraqi premier received a phone call from Trump during which they discussed the consolidation of ties between the two countries in all fields, the victories achieved against ISIS, and the global support to Iraq in the fight against terrorism.

Government positions have reached as close as 500 metres to the al-Nuri Mosque, from where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria in July 2014.

The US-led coalition had previously said it carried out a strike on March 17 in an area of west Mosul in which civilian casualties were reported, and it had opened an investigation.

As of 30 March, more than 367,000 individuals in total have been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas, and 287,000 are now displaced, since the operation to retake the city from ISIL launched in October 2016.

The jihadists still pose a threat, however, even in the capital, and would continue to do so even if they no longer controlled significant territory.

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The U.N. says most western Mosul residents have no access to food or clean drinking water and other than the Iraqi military, no aid agencies have been able to access them because of intense fighting.

Guterres is on the second day of a visit to Iraq, after meeting top officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, on Thursday.

Yet the country still remains divided.

The Sunni group overran about a third of Iraq in 2014, benefiting from the Sunni-Shi'ite rift that weakened the army.

Guterres called on leaders to build "a State in which all communities respect each other and reconciliation becomes something natural", according to a United Nations statement.

The Marshall Plan was a major USA effort to help Western Europe recover from the devastation it suffered in World War II.

  • Adam Floyd