The fighting in the Islamic State-held 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.
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.
A member of the Iraqi forces takes position by an armored vehicle in the Old City of Mosul on April 16, 2017, during an offensive to recapture the city from Takfiri Daesh militants.
A high-ranking Iraqi military figure says Daesh Takfiri terrorists are only in control of six neighborhoods in the western part of Mosul as government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, are battling to expel the extremists out of the country' second largest city. "Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving nearly everything behind", Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a news release issued by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
If Al-Qaeda from Iraq wants to proclaim the Islamic State of the khalifate immediately, ISIS wants to eliminate the occidental influence from the Middle East.
Aid shipments also resumed to the Hammam al-Alil camp, southwest of Mosul, the main arrival point for people fleeing the fighting.
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The UN estimates that as many as 500,000 people remain in ISIL-controlled districts in western Mosul, including 400,000 in the densely populated old city.
The United Nations says almost half a million civilians had fled fighting since the offensive to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists started on October 17, 2016.
"Minutes ago, they launched an attack and we responded by shelling them with mortar rounds, killing two of them and their bodies were left in front of our defensive lines", he said. It's where their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made his only known public appearance in July 2014 to announce the creation of an Islamic Caliphate.
"I don't know exactly when, but there are discussions and dialogues between messengers", he said, adding that it's not clear how the two groups will work together.
But after months of fighting, it appears that the government forces are winning after ISIS turned in desperation to Al-Qaeda to seek a potential alliance.