As fighting intensifies, number of people trapped in Mosul grows

World Today

A large plume of smoke rises during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants as civilians walk toward Iraqi security forces after fleeing their homes on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

A Kurdish news agency has reported from inside western Mosul that 230 civilians have been killed in two airstrikes. A spokesperson for Central Command, which coordinates the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes supporting Iraqi ground troops, said an investigation is currently underway.

The United Nations says 400,000 people remain trapped inside Mosul’s old city, and as food shortages continue, “the worst is yet to come.”

CGTN’s Tony Cheng reports from Northern Iraq.

As fighting intensifies, number of people trapped in Mosul grows

A Kurdish news agency has reported from inside western Mosul that 230 civilians have been killed in two airstrikes. A spokesperson for Central Command, which coordinates the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes supporting Iraqi ground troops, said an investigation is currently underway. The United Nations says 400,000 people remain trapped inside Mosul’s old city, and as food shortages continue, “the worst is yet to come.” CGTN’s Tony Cheng reports from Northern Iraq.

Residents of west Mosul fled fighting in the city on Thursday, and as the battle rages in the area around the old city, the situation for civilians has become unbearable.

Many people have now been without food and water for days.

And that’s on top of the gunfire, truck bombs, shelling, and airstrikes that they’ve been living with for weeks.

“We escaped from shelling, Daesh displaced us, there was no means to stay there, no food, nothing to drink, nothing at all,” Stabraq Yunis, a Mosul resident, said using the Arabic name Daesh to refer to ISIL.

Airstrikes are giving Iraqi forces on the ground the chance to dislodge entrenched ISIL positions, but civilians are being killed too.

Those fleeing the fighting have said that ISIL fighters are trying to force them to stay in the area–as human shields–knowing their presence will slow the advance of the Iraqi government.

We saw for ourselves the deadly impact that U.S.-led coalition air support brings.

But in the built-up urban areas, civilians are bound to be hit, and temporary field hospitals around Mosul are filling up with those wounded in the fighting.

The United Nations refugee agency announced on Thursday that 400,000 civilians remain trapped in the city.

“Unfortunately over the last several weeks it seems more and more injuries are mothers and small children, four year olds, and eight year olds, small children. Just the innocent bystanders and victims of war,” said Paul Osteen, humanitarian worker.

The news that more than 200 people have been killed in two airstrikes on Thursday will inevitably slow the advance of Iraqi forces as they try to retake the city.

But the longer it takes, the more desperate the situation gets for those trapped inside.