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Iraq delays Mosul operations for civilian safe passageways

Displaced Iraqi people who fled their homes receive aid in the city of Mosul, Iraq, April 2, 2017. (Photos by Reuters)

The Iraqi military has temporarily halted operations around the densely populated areas around west Mosul’s Old City to allow safe passage for civilians.

"Currently, there is a delay, to open safe passageways for families and residents towards the safe areas and camps," said Lieutenant Colonel Emad Khalas on Sunday.

Over the past few weeks, the battle against Daesh in the city has been mostly focused around the vicinity of the al-Nuri mosque where Daesh’s leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, announced the forming of the group’s so-called caliphate in 2014.

According to government sources, at least 355,000 people have so far managed to flee the city since operations to liberate it from Daesh began, but some 400,000 still remain trapped by the terrorists, who are using them as human shields.

Earlier, a federal police source said that at least 13 civilians were killed by the terrorists while they were attempting to escape the city.

Two Iraqi Federal Police members check a street controlled by police during combat between Iraqi forces and Daesh in Mosul, Iraq, April 2, 2017.

“Thirteen civilians were killed while trying to escape Tamouz region heading to Bab al-Sham, western Mosul,” said Colonel Khodeir Saleh.

Iraqi forces have been carrying out operations in the Old City area for several weeks, but they have faced tough resistance, and the progress has been slow.

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Iraqi Federal Police members carrying food supplies walk along a street controlled by Iraqi forces in Mosul, Iraq, April 2, 2017. 

Government troops and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi forces drove Daesh militants from the eastern part of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, earlier this year. The fight has now moved to Mosul’s densely populated western neighborhoods.

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