Iraq says 14,000 people fled western Mosul in one day


A rapidly increasing flow of people is pouring out of western Mosul, fleeing fierce battles between Iraqi security forces and ISIL fighters, as medical workers warned that women and children have been exposed to toxic gas near the city.

Iraq’s interior ministry said on Friday that 14,000 people fled the northern Iraqi city on Thursday alone, the largest wave of internally displaced people (IDPs) since a US-backed operation in west Mosul was launched on February 19.

The total number of IDPs who fled western Mosul since the start of the military push has reached 46,000, the ministry said.

The announcement followed a previous statement by the United Nations warning that around 4,000 civilians were fleeing the city, ISIL’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq, each day.

Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker, reporting from a refugee camp in Khazer, east of Mosul, said that IDPs there cited the “intensity of coalition air strikes” as one of the main reasons for leaving their homes.

“People in the camp who just arrived explained how terrifying the situation was on those frontlines,” she said.

“It’s a desperate situation for these people; they are being moved across the country to different areas to be housed.

“Aid agencies are warning that they expect the numbers to rise, particularly because west Mosul is densely populated and the fighting has not even reached those areas.” …

Read more : AlJazeera, 03.03.2017