Number of civilians fleeing Mosul ‘not huge’, says Red Cross

Moscow/Baghdad, Oct 19 (IANS) The number of people fleeing the Iraqi city of Mosul amid the ongoing military operation to liberate it from the Islamic State (IS) is “not huge” as the fighting has not reached “the heart of the city” so far, a Red Cross official said on Wednesday.

“The forces haven’t reached to the heart of Mosul city. Up to now, operations are going in different small areas and in the areas around Mosul, in the outskirts of the city. There isn’t that massive influx of civilians fleeing yet. Some civilians are fleeing from the outskirts but the number is not huge,” Sara Zawqari, spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Iraq, told Sputnik.

On Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the start of the military operation to retake Mosul from the IS militants.

According to local media, about 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are taking part in the operation, backed by air strikes carried out by the US-led international coalition.

Mosul, the second biggest Iraqi city, as well as a number of other northern and western Iraqi cities and towns, was seized by the IS in 2014.

On Sunday, the ICRC spokeswoman told Sputnik that the operation to liberate Mosul from IS may lead to a humanitarian disaster forcing up to one million civilians to flee the city.

–IANS

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