UN says Iraq crisis lingers despite Mosul gains

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BAGHDAD (AP) – The Latest on the developments in Iraq where Iraqi forces are pushing to retake the last sliver of ground held by the Islamic State group in the Old City neighborhood (all times local):

4 p.m.

The United Nations says there is no end in sight to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq despite recent progress in driving the Islamic State group from Mosul.

A statement released Monday says thousands of Mosul residents will likely remain displaced from the city after the fight is concluded because of “extensive damage caused during the conflict.”

Airstrikes, artillery and militant bombings have destroyed thousands of buildings as well as key infrastructure in Mosul. Iraq’s Interior Ministry says more than half of all buildings in western Mosul, where the fighting was heaviest, were damaged or destroyed.

More than 800,000 people have been forced from their homes since the operation began in October.

Iraqi forces are still battling the extremists in a small area along the west bank of the Tigris River, where Iraqi commanders say hundreds of fighters are using their own families as human shields.

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1:55 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he welcomes news that the fight against the Islamic State group in Mosul is nearing its ends but says the once oil-rich city has been left in ruins.

Erdogan spoke to a World Petroleum Congress meeting in Istanbul on Monday. He also questioned who would pay for the reconstruction of the region.

Erdogan says Turkey is “very happy about the news that a conclusion (in the battle for) Mosul is being reached” but cautioned that “the point which Mosul has reached is very important.”

He says: “We have been left with a Mosul in ruins.”

Erdogan adds: “Who will meet the cost of rebuilding Mosul for the people of Mosul?”

The Turkish leader reiterated the importance of maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity and said a planned independence referendum by Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region would harm Iraq’s future.

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8:50 a.m.

Iraqi forces are pushing to retake the last patch of ground in Mosul where Islamic State militants are holding on to a tiny sliver of the Old City, west of the Tigris River, a day after the prime minister visited soldiers to congratulate his troops on the hard-fought battle.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the Iraqi special forces says his men, closely backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, are continuing to advance and clear territory in the Old City on Monday.

Iraqi commanders say they believe hundreds of IS fighters remain inside the neighborhood and are using their families – including women and children – as human shields.

Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul last October and began the weeks-long push through the Old City district in June.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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