Iraq opens new Tigris bridge escape route for people fleeing Mosul

Iraq's prime minister last month called for more support from the global community to combat ISIS and Al Qaeda.

More than 493,000 people have left their homes since October 17, when Iraq started a massive campaign to recapture Mosul, the country's second-largest city.

The fighting in the Islamic State-held Old City of Mosul, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are trapped, could turn into the worst humanitarian "catastrophe" in the war against the militants, the United Nations warned on Tuesday.

As many as half a million are estimated to remain overall in neighborhoods still under control of the militants in western Mosul, the organization said in a statement on Monday.

Army Captain Khader al-Asadi told Anadolu Agency that a Daesh suicide bomber had attacked anti-terrorism units stationed in western Mosul's Al-Thawra district.

In February, Iraqi ground forces - backed by a US -led air coalition - began fresh operations aimed at driving Daesh militants from western Mosul, the terrorist group's last stronghold in northern Iraq.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has opened a new camp in Iraq's Hammam al-Alil to house thousands of newly-displaced people fleeing the fighting in western Mosul.

They were some of the around 400,000 people still in western Mosul where military forces are trying to dislodge the militants from the Old City.

The United Nations says almost half a million civilians had fled fighting since the offensive to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists started on October 17, 2016.

"They (Islamic State militants) carry out attacks on our defensive lines, but each time we repel them and they run away, leaving bodies of their dead fighters behind", Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Lazim Zghayer said of the force's 9th division.

Baghdadi declared a caliphate over the territory the group controlled from the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul the same year, which also became a point of contention with al-Qaeda. "There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing Baghdadi and representing Zawahiri", referring to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and Ayman al Zawahiri, the head of al Qaeda.

"It is unclear how exactly both groups may work together", Allawi said.

  • Rogelio Becker