Iraqi's Shiite militias launch anti-IS push west of Mosul

Families flee Mosul as Iraqi troops push into last militant-held areas

More than 22,000 people have fled Mosul since the USA -backed Iraqi forces opened a new front in the northwest of the city on May 4, the United Nations said on May 10, citing Iraqi government figures.

"The multi-axis advance. has presented the enemy with more dilemmas than they can react to", John Dorrian, a spokesman for the US -led coalition, told reporters. Mosul is divided by the Tigris River, and while the series of bridges crossing it have either been damaged or destroyed, they would provide a link between the Iraqi government-held east and Daesh-held west Mosul if they can be repaired or otherwise bridged.

UNHCR has opened 12 camps for civilians fleeing the conflict in Mosul, and almost 500 children, women and men children have arrived at the newest camp, Hasansham U2, located around 60 km west of the city, since it opened on Tuesday, Mahecic said.

An Iraqi soldier steps off a vehicle in west Mosul, May 10 2017.

A 35-year-old man who gave his name as Abu Rami and lives in the Old City of west Mosul said IS was desperate to keep the population from running away.

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Local sources put the number of ISIL terrorists in western Mosul at around 600, meaning that the Takfiri terrorists are resorting to human shields as a last resort in their defense strategy.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said - citing the Iraqi government - that 434,775 people have fled Daesh's last stronghold in Iraq since Iraqi forces launched the western Mosul operation on February 19.

The Iraqi army says it is in the final stages of its campaign to rout the Islamist militants from their last major urban redoubt in Iraq, seven months after the US -backed operation to recapture the city began. UNHCR calls on all parties in the fighting to ensure civilians are not prevented from leaving conflict zones and are given access to safe areas, including people now trapped in Mosul, Mahecic said, adding: "Equally, civilians must not be forced to return to unsafe areas".

Mr Dorrian said while IS defences in Mosul are "degraded" each day, it is still impossible to predict how much longer the operation will take.

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