The Iraqi government has announced that it is pausing the military offensive in western Mosul for the time being, citing the “catastrophic” rate of civilian casualties resulting from its military operations. This announcement came just days after a huge death toll in US airstrikes against the city.
Central Command has been dismissive of the civilian toll, despite mounting evidence, and insisted that it still believes those slain in the attack were ISIS, despite promising an inquiry. Iraqi forces, however, insisted that they could no longer continue the push after the incident, and are weighing new plans for the fight.
Mosul is a city of over a million people, and Iraq’s government warned civilians not to flee at the start of the invasion. This has left many in densely packed neighborhoods, which are the sites of intense urban combat that the Iraqi military wasn’t particularly well trained for.
It’s not clear what alternative Iraq has at this point, as while they’ve tried to help civilians flee in recent weeks, they made little to no effort to prepare the refugee camps to absorb that many people, and those who have gotten out have found themselves struggling to find shelter.
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