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Displacement due to ongoing fighting in western Mosul continues to rise rapidly as thousands of Iraqi people are fleeing the north Iraqi city, Farhan Haq, the deputy UN spokesman, told reporters here Wednesday.

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Some 53,500 people have been displaced from western Mosul since the renewed military operations there began on Feb. 19, Haq said at a a daily news briefing here. “This is an increase of approximately 3,500 people overnight.”

“This figure is expected to continue to rise in the coming days,” Haq said, adding that reports are being verified of the arrival of another 13,000 people at a security screening site in Hamam al Alil, south of Mosul.

Since military operations in Mosul began in mid-October, more than 4,600 people have been referred from front line areas to Erbil’s two main hospitals to be treated for trauma injuries, he said.

Since hostilities resumed on Feb. 19, more than 600 people have been treated at trauma stabilisation points close to the city for conflict-related injuries, he said.

“A further 15 people have been referred from eastern Mosul city to hospitals in nearby Erbil for the treatment of skin burns, blistering and respiratory issues, which are symptoms consistent with exposure to a blistering chemical agent,” he said.

Mosul witnessed a fighting between the Iraqi government forces and Islamic State (IS/Da’esh) terrorists.

The Iraqi government force’s advance toward Mosul came after the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Feb. 19 the start of an offensive to drive the extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River which bisects the city.

Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against the Islamic State (IS) militants.

However, the western side of Mosul, with its narrow streets and a heavy population of between 750,000 and 800,000, appears to be a bigger challenge to the Iraqi forces, according to the United Nations estimates.

Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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