BAGHDAD: Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi said the humanitarian situation in Mosul has reached a “catastrophic point” as Iraqi forces engage in clashes with Islamic State (ISIS) militants in western Mosul.
“The situation is catastrophic amid famine and lack of food and medicine, which make the city live an unbearable situation,” al-Nujaifi told a party meeting late Sunday (April 30).
Some 400,000 civilians remain trapped inside the densely-populated Old City where street battles have raged for weeks. The Iraqi VP said hundreds of thousands of families have heeded government calls to stay at their homes because militants may use civilians as human shields.
“However, they are now going through an unprecedented predicament,” he said. The battle should be completed “in a maximum of three weeks”, the army’s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanmi, was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper al-Sabah on Sunday (April 30).
The U.S.-led international coalition is providing air and ground support for the offensive in Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, which fell to hardline Sunni Muslim fighters in June 2014.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other leaders of the militant group have left the city but estimates say about 200-300 fighters remain inside, resisting with snipers hiding among the population, car bombs and suicide trucks targeting Iraqi positions.