UNITED NATIONS, January 12. /TASS/. Nearly 50% of casualties in Mosul, where the Iraqi forces backed by the US-led coalition conduct an operation against militants of the Islamic State terrorist group, are civilians, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, told reporters.
Civilians in Mosul are at an extremely high risk, representing 47% of all casualties in the military operation so far, she said via a video-link from Iraq. "You would expect in a conflict like this that the number of civilian casualties would be around 15 per cent, a high of 20 per cent. What we’re seeing in Mosul is that nearly 50 per cent of all casualties are in fact civilians," Grande said.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 683 people were injured in Mosul during the first week of January, and at least 817 were wounded during the last week of December.
"It’s clear that this is because of direct targeting by combatants and in the majority of cases, the overwhelming majority, civilians are being directly targeted by ISIL (IS group). They’re being shot as they try and leave the city and they’re being shot as they try and secure food and other resources," Grande said.
Some 750,000 are in western Mosul, which is under the full control of the IS terrorists. Another 450,000 live in the eastern part of the city, the humanitarian coordinator said.
Grande voiced concerns that a siege-like situation could develop in western Mosul. "A siege of 750,000 people would have absolutely enormous implications," she warned. The UN is trying to deliver as much humanitarian aid as possible to prevent a crisis.
Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has been controlled by the Islamic State group for over two years. The ground operation to liberate it began on October 17, uniting government forces, Shia militias and Kurd Peshmerga fighters. The Iraqi Air Force and warplanes of the US-led coalition provide air support. According to the UN, nearly 140,000 Iraqis were forced to leave their homes.