Iraqi Forces Drop Leaflets Urging Mosul Residents to Flee

Fear of a New Exodus to Already Overwhelmed Refugee Camps

The Iraqi Air Force says it has dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets over the remaining ISIS-held parts of Old Mosul today, urging the civilian population within to flee en masse for their own safety, and suggesting a military offensive against those neighborhoods was imminent.

Iraq has struggled for months with its offensive against the densely populated Old City, trying to limit the civilian death toll for fear of a backlash, and has been clearly regretting its warnings earlier in the invasion of Mosul that civilians ought not to attempt to flee.

Even getting civilians out of Mosul poses more problems, since there was no official effort to make serious provision for refugees beforehand, and the camps set up by private aid groups, and those few set up by the UN, have already mostly filled up.

On top of that, ISIS has reportedly been trying to prevent mass civilian flight from their territory, as depopulating its neighborhoods would place fewer restrictions on invading forces. Since civilians have been shot trying to flee those areas, the leaflets may be reckless in and of themselves, as they encourage locals to take serious risks for the sake of the war.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.