Some 30,000 civilians trapped by fighting in Tal Afar: UN


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 Some 30,000 civilians trapped by fighting in Tal Afar: UN

Fighters of the Hashed Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization units) advance towards the town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, after the Iraqi government announced the beginning of the operation to retake it from the control of the Islamic State (IS) group on August 22, 2017. Iraqi forces recaptured from the Islamic State group the first two districts of jihadist bastion Tal Afar, as the Pentagon chief visited Baghdad in a show of support.

Some 30,000 civilians are trapped by fighting in Tal Afar, according to the United Nations, a city Iraqi forces are working to take back from the Islamic State group.

"Humanitarian assistance is being provided at assembly points to the south and east of Tal Afar town, with more than 300 people having passed through these points yesterday and receiving assistance," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres's spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists on Tuesday.

The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) fears Iraqi civilians "are likely to be used as human shields" and that "attempts to flee could result in executions and shootings," according to Dujarric.

UNHCR "calls on all parties to the conflict to allow civilians to leave the conflict area and to allow access to safety," he said.

The UN said Monday it expected thousands of civilians to flee the area in the days and weeks to come.

Iraqi forces on Tuesday recaptured from the Islamic State group the first three districts of jihadist bastion Tal Afar.

More than a month after Iraq's second city Mosul was recaptured from IS, troops launched an offensive Sunday to take back Tal Afar, situated 70 kilometers (45 miles) further west.

The Iraqi forces are backed by a US-led international coalition carrying out a campaign of air strikes against IS.

By: AFP

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