Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
Global | By Doris Richards

Half a million civilians flee fighting in Mosul

Half a million civilians flee fighting in Mosul

The Islamic State (ISIS) radical group is seeking a possible alliance with al-Qaeda after suffering heavy losses, Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi said on Monday.

The intelligence agencies are not yet sure how the two organizations might begin the collaboration, especially since ISIS conquered numerous territories in the northern region of Iraq, where Baghdadi declared established his khalifate.

More than 493,000 people have left their homes since October 17, when Iraq started a massive campaign to recapture Mosul, the country's second-largest city.

ERBIL, Iraq The battle to dislodge Islamic State from the Old City of Mosul, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are trapped, could turn into the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the war against the militants, the United Nations warned on Tuesday.About 400,000 civilians, or a quarter of Mosul's pre-war population, are trapped in the Old City, according to U.N. estimates.

Iraqi Federal Police forces "are engaged in hard, house-to-house clashes with ISIS fighters inside the Old City", a media officer from these units told Reuters. Nearly 330,000 people have fled Mosul since Iraq started an operation to expel Islamic State in October.

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As many as 500,000 civilians are still trapped in Daesh-controlled neighborhoods of western Mosul.

'They (Islamic State militants) carry out attacks on our defensive lines, but each time we repel them and they run away, leaving bodies of their dead fighters behind, ' Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Lazim Zghayer said of the force's 9th division. "There are discussions and a constant dialogue between the messengers of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Ayman al-Zawahiri", added the Iraqi leader.

ISIS split from al Qaeda in 2014 and the two groups have since waged an acrimonious battle for recruits, funding and the mantle of global extremism.

Government forces, including army, police and elite counter terrorism units have taken back most of Mosul, including the half that lies east of the Tigris river.

"It is unclear how exactly both groups may work together", Allawi said.

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