An injured woman is transported by cart through western Mosul. Photo: Rudaw
MOSUL, Iraq — Nearly 150,000 civilians are believed to be caught in the crossfire of an accelerating battle between the army and the remaining ISIS militants in western Mosul where Iraqi forces continue to close in on the last holdout of the jihadist fighters in the city, senior military officials told Rudaw Monday.
According to the army five neighbourhoods including the devastated Old Town district still remain in ISIS control where the bulk of the remaining populations are trapped.
The army says the battle to retake the areas around the Old Town could take longer than previous estimations to avoid larger civilian casualties.
“Hopefully the operation will be complete within two weeks,” said Walid Khalifa Kajid, deputy commander of the 9th brigade.
The military announced earlier that the entire western Mosul was expected to be liberated before the start of the Muslim fasting month Ramadan next week.
“The number of ISIS militants remaining in the area is deceasing fast. They have suffered enormously. We have obtained information that they have run out of food and fuel and have very low moral,” Kajid told Rudaw.
The United Nations announced in mid-April that around half a million people were still in areas close to the clashes in western half of Mosul, many of them used as human shields against advancing Iraqi forces.
“When the residents succeed to escape, the militants target them with sniper attacks and and car bombs. But we are here to help them and god willing the worst is soon over,” a police officer told Rudaw.
On Monday dozens of families left their homes in the Seventeenth of July district in the area soon after it was retaken by the army.