IOM has suspended its operations at Qayyara airstrip emergency site because of the clashes. Photo: IOM
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Two journalists and a number of civilians have been killed after ISIS attacked a village south of Mosul.
Security sources told Reuters that ISIS infiltrated the village of Imam Gharbi, 70 km south of Mosul, on Wednesday evening, coming from territory they control east of the Tigris, a pocket that includes the town of Hawija where Kurdish forces want Baghdad to prioritize the next offensive against the extremist group.
A number of civilians and military personnel have been killed in the clashes, Reuters reported.
Two Iraqi journalists were also killed.
"Colleague Harb Hazaa al-Dulaimi, correspondent for the Hona Salaheddin channel, and Sudad al-Duri, the cameraman for the same station, were martyred," the channel said, according to AFP.
A third journalist was reportedly trapped in the village.
The clashes prompted the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) to temporarily suspend its operations in Qayyara and Haj Ali camp.
“The situation in Qayara is not currently conducive to humanitarian operations,” said Vincent Houver, Deputy Director of IOM’s Operations and Emergencies, in a statement published Friday announcing the decision that was made on Thursday.
IOM reported that Qayyara is apparently under a curfew and the “local population has been told to stay in their homes until security improves.”
The decision brings to a halt IOM activities and distribution at the emergency site at Qayyara air strip, 65 km south of Mosul, and Haj Ali camp south of Qayyara. IOM is also moving all their non-local emergency response staff to Erbil. Camp-based staff, including health professionals, remain working at the sites.
The agency is worried about the arrival of 13 busloads of newly displaced persons expected at Haj Ali camp.
They also state that six of their trucks delivering water to the camps did not clear checkpoints on Thursday amid tightened security.
The two sites are hosting over 79,000 displaced Iraqis according to IOM and temperatures have been reaching the high 40s and low 50s in recent days.
According to IOM, other aid agencies working in the two locations have taken similar actions.
IOM will review their decision on Sunday.
Qayyara was liberated from ISIS in August last year. ISIS set fire to the area’s oil wells as they retreated. Black clouds of smoke hung over the city for months as Iraqis battled to put out the flames.
The Qayyara airfield is also home to coalition forces firing artillery at ISIS locations in Mosul.
Peshmerga on the frontlines against ISIS in the Hawija pocket report daily movement of the group's fighters, who have frequently launched attacks against Peshmerga positions.