Thousands flee Mosul ahead of fighting

Thousands flee Mosul ahead of fighting

PanARMENIAN.Net - Thousands of people have fled the Mosul area and more are expected as Iraqi troops move on the city to liberate it from the so-called Islamic State (IS), according to BBC News.

Some 5,000 people have crossed the border into Syria in the last 10 days, the aid agency Save the Children says.

They have arrived at the al-Hol refugee camp where conditions are already reported to be filthy and overcrowded.

Up to 1.5 million civilians are thought to still be in Mosul, with up to 5,000 IS fighters.

The UN is preparing for what it fears could be the biggest man-made humanitarian crisis in recent times.

Refugee camps are being built in the south, east and north of Mosul in preparation for a flood of people fleeing the city. The UN says it expects at least 200,000 in the coming days and weeks.

Mosul residents had been told by the Iraqi government that it might be safer to stay in the city while the operation is under way - with fears IS fighters have booby-trapped roads and placed snipers on routes in and out.

But there are also fears that IS militants could use residents as human shields by moving into their neighbourhoods, and concern that the group may even use chemical weapons.

Residents, reached by telephone by Reuters news agency, confirmed that IS was trying to prevent people from fleeing the city and had directed some of them towards buildings likely to be targeted by air strikes.

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