Trapped Mosul civilians could face worst catastrophe of Iraq conflict, United Nations warns

Iraqi forces forced Islamic State out of the eastern side of the city in January.

A high-ranking Iraqi military figure says Daesh Takfiri terrorists are only in control of six neighborhoods in the western part of Mosul as government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, are battling to expel the extremists out of the country' second largest city.

'If there is a siege and hundreds of thousands of people don't have water and don´t have food, they will be at enormous risk, ' United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"The battle in western Mosul is very different than in the east - it's much tougher".

An Iraqi woman carries a girl as she walks along a pontoon bridge over the Tigris river on the outskirts of Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq, April 17, 2017.

The leader of so-called "Islamic State" has spoken to al Qaeda about a "possible alliance", according to Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi.

Long queues formed at the new bridge on Tuesday with families crossing in public buses, trucks and taxis.

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However, a military spokesperson of government forces has claimed that they have gained some fresh ground.

The Islamic State, which made territorial gains in Mosul and parts of northern Iraq, has more recently been pushed out of much of the region under pressure from an global coalition that includes the United States. "Families. tell us that they are being shot at as they are escaping".

'Minutes ago, they launched an attack and we responded by shelling them with mortar rounds, killing two of them and their bodies were left in front of our defensive lines, ' he said earlier today.

"There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing [IS leader Abu Bakr] Baghdadi and representing [the head of al Qaeda, Ayman] al Zawahiri", he said.

Baghdadi declared a caliphate over the territory the group controlled from the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul the same year, which also became a point of contention with al-Qaeda.

It is unclear how exactly the two group may work together, Allawi said.

  • Adam Floyd