Iraq forces attack four jihadist-held areas in west Mosul

06 March, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Iraqi forces initiate new progress toward city center of western Mosul

Iraqi troops have encountered the heaviest clashes yet with Islamic State fighters in western Mosul since the new push began more than two weeks ago, according to a senior commander.

"This is frightful. If the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed, this is a serious violation of global humanitarian law and a war crime, regardless of who the targets or the victims of the attacks are", she said in a statement.

According to the World Health Organization, since the beginning of the month they have seen 12 patients with respiratory symptoms and blistering, four of whom "are showing severe signs associated with exposure to a blister agent".

Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul on October 17, recapturing its eastern side earlier this year before setting their sights on its smaller but more densely populated west.

"This is terrible", Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq said. She said if the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed, it would be "a serious violation of worldwide humanitarian law and a war crime, regardless of who the targets or the victims of the attacks are".

The Red Cross did not say who was to blame for the potential attack. Hunger and bombings forced us to flee our homes.

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They were also reported to have fired rockets and mortar rounds filled with toxic agents from the western side of the city to the eastern, government-controlled side.

The fall of west Mosul would effectively mark the end of ISIS's dream of a "caliphate" across the Iraq/Syria border, which its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced from a mosque in the city in 2014.

Residents of Syria's second city, under full regime control since December, have been without mains water for 48 days after the jihadists cut the supply.

The Iraqi government is providing relief and food.

'The top priority for humanitarians is to make sure that there is sufficient capacity at emergency sites to deal with the number of civilians who are fleeing western Mosul, ' said Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.

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