100,000 IRAQI CHILDREN THREATENED BY FIERCE CLASHES IN WESTERN MOSUL

The lives of up to 100,000 Iraqi children are in great danger, as fighting is intensifying between the Iraqi security forces and the extremist Daesh militants in western Mosul.

"An estimated 100,000 girls and boys remain in extremely dangerous conditions, in the old city and other areas of western side of Mosul. Many are caught in the crossfire and hospitals and other medical facilities have reportedly come under attack," the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Iraq said in a statement.

"Children's lives are on the line. Children are being killed, injured and used as human shields. Children are experiencing and witnessing terrible violence that no human being should ever witness. In some cases, they have been forced to participate in the fighting and violence," the statement warned.

The UNICEF warning came, as the Iraqi security forces, backed by anti-Daesh international coalition are carrying out a major offensive, to drive out the militants from their major stronghold in the western side of Mosul, but a few neighbourhoods, including the densely-populated old city centre, are still under control of the militants.

So far, the troops recaptured large parts of al-Zanjili and al-Shifaa, but heavy back and forth street-to-street battles are still underway, as the extremist militants showed stiff resistance, while heavy clashes and bombings are underway at the edges of the city centre.

As the conflict escalates, UNICEF called on all parties in the western side of Mosul to protect children and keep them out of danger at all times, in accordance with their obligations under humanitarian law, according to the UNICEF statement.

"Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, clinics, schools, homes and water systems should stop immediately," it added.

Earlier, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, the number of civilians remaining in the old city and surrounding neighbourhoods cannot be known exactly, but the office estimated 200,000 may leave their homes in the coming days of battles.

"We don't know for sure how many civilians are still in Daesh-held districts, but as many as 200,000 additional people may try to leave in coming days," an OCHA report said.

According to the Iraqi military, over 90 percent of the city has been retaken from the Daesh, in the ongoing major offensive, launched in Oct last year.�

Source: NAM News Network