The United Nations said 435,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the beginning of an offensive to liberate the western side of the city from Islamic State (ISIS) militants. UN Secretary-General Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday (May 9) more than 403,000 Iraqis have currently been displaced from western Mosul. Dujarric added some 31,000 people have been returned to the liberated areas of the city. Iraqi forces opened a new front against the militants in the northwest of Mosul in an effort to push down into the handful of remaining districts held by ISIS, including the Old City. The new push from the northwest began last week after other fronts in the city’s southern districts stalled around the Old City where the iconic mosque from which ISIS leader Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi proclaimed a modern-day caliphate is located. Dujarric said the United Nations humanitarian staff are concern about the hundreds of thousands of civilians who are still living in the area. He added some 360,000 people are believed to be caught between the fighters. “Families continue to arrive at the newly established mustering point at Badoush, northeast of Mosul, along the Syrian highway, where emergency assistance and basic services are being provided by humanitarian partners”, Dujarric said.
Islamic State has lost most of the territory it has held in Iraq since 2014, an Iraqi military spokesman .At the height of its power, the militant group controlled about 40 percent of Iraq, joint operations command spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told a news conference.That area has been whittled down to about 6.8 percent of Iraqi territory after extensive military operations, which are still going on in the city of Mosul, he said. Islamic State militants still control the towns of Qaim, Tal Afar and Hawija in Iraq, as well as Raqqa, their de-facto capital in Syria. The coalition battling Islamic State is made up of tens of thousands of members of the Iraqi security forces, led by the army, and thousands of Shi’ite volunteers, many from militia groups, commonly referred to as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU). The eastern half of the city is now completely under the control of Iraqi security forces, Rasool said. But the push against Islamic State in Western Mosul is bogged down with Iraqi security forces fighting in a warren of small streets in the old part of the city. The federal police said in a statement on Tuesday they have been reinforcing their positions in Western Mosul in preparation for a push on the al-Nuri Mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014.
Refugees have been received at government camps since the start of offensives to recapture western Mosul from Islamic State have exceeded 76.000, according to the Iraqi government. The United Nations and Iraqi refugee bodies have warned that battles in western Mosul could displace at least 250.000 out of 750.000 estimated to be trapped under IS control in western Mosul. Upon the launch of operations to recapture eastern Mosul last October, the United Nations predicted 1.5 million refugees.