World, Middle East

6,000 Iraqi civilians return to homes in eastern Mosul

Meanwhile, some 750,000 civilians remain trapped in Daesh-held western Mosul, Oxfam reports

15.02.2017
6,000 Iraqi civilians return to homes in eastern Mosul File photo

BAGHDAD

More than 6,000 displaced Iraqi civilians have returned to their homes in areas recently recaptured from the Daesh terrorist group in eastern Mosul, according to an Iraqi aid official.  

Iraqi forces have driven Daesh militants from most of Mosul’s eastern districts as part of a wide-ranging Iraqi army offensive launched last October to retake the city, which was overrun by the terrorist group in mid-2014. 

"More than 6,000 people, mostly women and children, have now left the refugee camps and returned to their homes [in eastern Mosul]," Iyad Rafed of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.  

According to Rafed, the return of refugees to their homes is being overseen by Iraqi security forces in coordination with humanitarian relief officials. 

The Iraqi authorities estimate that more than 191,000 civilians have fled their homes in eastern Mosul since the army’s Mosul campaign began four months ago. 

Last week, Iraqi officials said some 60,000 people had returned to their homes in "liberated" parts of Mosul, once considered Iraq’s second largest city in terms of population.  

Meanwhile, the Oxfam aid agency warned that some 750,000 people remained trapped in western Mosul, which the Iraqi army is now preparing to storm with a view to expelling Daesh remnants from the area. 

In a Wednesday statement, the London-based NGO said humanitarian conditions in western Mosul were deteriorating after the city’s supply routes were cut last November when the eastern half of the city was taken. 

"The next phase of fighting poses a serious threat to civilian residents," Andres Gonzalez, Oxfam’s country director in Iraq, said in a statement published on the group’s website. 

"The idea that families might be trapped amid heavy fighting, especially in the narrow streets of the Old City without any means of escape, is a terrifying prospect," Gonzalez said. 

Daesh overran Mosul, along with vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq, in 2014.

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