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Over 100,000 civilians flee homes in Mosul due to ongoing operations to free it from Islamic State (ISIS) Terrorist Group

Nearly 1,00,000 residents have been forced to flee their homes because of the ongoing operation to free western Mosul from IS militants

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Islamic State militants flaunt an armored vehicle seized from Iraqi security forces in the northern Iraq city of Mosul on June 23, 2014. VOA

Baghdad, March 13, 2017: The ongoing operations to free the western side of Mosul from Islamic State (IS) terrorists have pushed up to 100,000 civilians to flee their homes, the Iraqi government said on Sunday.

“The latest statistics of the Iraqi ministry of migration shows 99,852 displaced people since the launch of operations to free the neighbourhoods of Mosul’s right bank (western side),” Xinhua quoted a statement by Jassim Mohammed al-Jaf, Minister of Migration and Displaced.

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On Sunday, teams affiliated to the ministry received 10,607 civilians who left their homes from the battleground of the neighbourhoods of western Mosul, Jaf said.

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The migration ministry prepared appropriate places to shelter the displaced people and provided emergency supplies, including food and medicine, Jaf added.

The announcement came as the Iraqi security forces were pushing deeper into the IS-held western side of Mosul, locally known as right bank of Tigris River, which bisects the city.

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The troops dislodged IS terrorists from several neighbourhoods in the southern part of Mosul’s western side, including the main government buildings in the old city centre. (IANS)

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US Backed Fighters Say, ‘They Have Taken Position in Islamic State Enclave in Syria’

The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them

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Fire is seen during fighting in the Islamic State's final enclave, in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 17, 2019. VOA

U.S.-backed fighters said they had taken positions in Islamic State’s last enclave in eastern Syria and air strikes pounded the tiny patch of land beside the Euphrates River early on Monday, a Reuters journalist said.

Smoke rose over the tiny enclave as warplanes and artillery bombarded it. Another witness said the jihadists had earlier mounted a counter attack.

“Several positions captured and an ammunition storage has been blown up,” said Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, on Twitter late on Sunday.

The enclave resembles an encampment, filled with stationary vehicles and rough shelters with blankets or tarpaulins that could be seen flapping in the wind during a lull in fighting as people walked among them.

Backed by air power and special forces from a U.S.-led coalition, the SDF has pushed Islamic State from almost the entire northeastern corner of Syria, defeating it in Raqqa in 2017 and driving it to its last enclave at Baghouz last year.

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The Islamic State group’s last pocket of territory in Baghouz, Syria, as seen from a distance on Sunday, March 17, 2019. VOA

But while its defeat at Baghouz will end its control of populated land in the third of Syria and Iraq that it captured in 2014, the group will remain a threat, regional and Western officials say.

The SDF has waged a staggered assault on the enclave, pausing for long periods over recent weeks to allow surrendering fighters, their families and other civilians to pour out.

Since Jan. 9, more than 60,000 people have left the enclave, about half of them surrendering Islamic State supporters including some 5,000 fighters, the SDF said on Sunday.

People leaving the area have spoken of harsh conditions inside, under coalition bombardment and with supplies of food so scarce some resorted to eating grass.

Last month, the SDF said it had found a mass grave in an area it captured.

Still, many of those who left Baghouz have vowed their allegiance to the jihadist group, which last week put out a propaganda film from inside the enclave calling on its supporters to keep faith.

Suicide attacks on Friday targeted families of Islamic State fighters attempting to leave the enclave and surrender, killing six people, the SDF said.

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Late on Sunday, the Kurdish Ronahi TV station aired footage showing a renewed assault on the enclave, with fires seen to be raging inside and tracer fire and rockets zooming into the tiny area.

The SDF and the coalition say the Islamic State fighters inside Baghouz are among the group’s most hardened foreign fighters, though Western countries believe its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has left the area. (VOA)