UN expands civilian camps as Mosul airstrikes resume

A member of the Iraqi forces adjusts a mortar launcher at a position in western Mosul on Tuesday, during an offensive to retake the city from IS jihadists. (AFP)
Updated 05 April 2017
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UN expands civilian camps as Mosul airstrikes resume

IRBIL: The UN said on Tuesday it is expanding camps for displaced people around Mosul, as airstrikes resumed on Daesh positions in Iraq’s second largest city.
More than 300,000 people have fled Mosul since the start of the US-backed campaign in October, the office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq said in a statement.
Mosul had a pre-campaign population of about a million and half, split more or less evenly between the sides lying east and west of the Tigris river that runs through the middle.
Iraqi forces captured the eastern side in January and in February launched a second phase to take the western side, with air and ground support from a US-led coalition.
They are now battling to take the northwestern part, but the civilian death toll has mounted in the densely populated Old City, where the militants are dug in among residents.
More people are expected to flee the fighting and camps for the displaced north and east of Mosul are expanding, the UN statement said.
Airstrikes on the city by the Iraqi air force resumed on Tuesday as the sky cleared after several days of bad weather, the Iraqi military said.
A number of Daesh commanders were killed in an airstrike on a position in Hay Al-Tanak, a stronghold of the group in the west of Mosul, the Iraqi military said in statement.
Among those killed were commanders in charge of booby traps, of Arab suicide fighters and child recruitment, the statement added, without identifying them by name.
Daesh media outlets did not mention the strike.
The improved weather should also allow ground forces to resume their advance toward the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque, where the militants’ leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, declared a “caliphate” nearly three years ago over parts of Iraq and Syria.
The current phase of the campaign is the most difficult as narrow alleyways in the densely populated old city limit the use of artillery, air power and armored vehicles.
An explosion in western Mosul last month killed between 60 and 240 people, according to various accounts.


Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

Pro-government drive in an industrial district in the eastern outskirts of the port city Hodeidah. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Houthis mobilize to fight ahead of UN envoy’s visit

  • Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday
  • UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week

SANAA: Iran-backed Houthi militias have said they are ready to mobilize more fighters to the frontline despite a lull in battleground Hodeidah, as the UN envoy prepares to visit the country to boost peace efforts.

Dozens of Houthis put on a show of strength on the outskirts of Sanaa on Saturday, apparently getting ready to head toward Hodeidah, a Red Sea city home to a vital port.

Men, some of whom looked very young, were lining up with bandoliers around their shoulders and rifles in their hands, chanting Houthi slogans.

Residents said on Sunday that relative calm had held in Hodeidah city since pro-government forces announced a pause in their offensive last week amid international calls for a cease-fire and UN-led peace efforts.  They added, however, that they remain on edge.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths said on Friday that he plans to travel to Sanaa in the coming week to finalize arrangements for peace talks to take place in Sweden soon.

Hameed Assem, a member of the militia delegation expected to take part in the negotiations, said that Houthis will continue to mobilize if UN efforts for peace fail to materialize.

Pro-government forces on Wednesday suspended their 12-day offensive in Hodeidah.

Griffiths said on Friday that both the government and the Houthis have shown a “renewed commitment” to work on a political solution and have given “firm assurances” that they will attend the talks. No date has yet been set.