Inhabitants of Iraqi city could be used as human shields

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Trucks arrive at WFP warehouses every day in preparation for the expected response to humanitarian needs related to the military offensive in Mosul, Iraq. Here, teams unload vegetable oil and other supplies.
Photo: WFP/Alexandra Murdoch

The inhabitants of a city in Iraq which the Iraqi government is attempting to retake from terrorists could be used as human shields, the UN's most senior humanitarian official in the country has warned.

An air and ground attack to retake Mosul was launched in the early hours of Monday morning in an attempt to drive out the ISIL terrorist group.

Daniel Dickinson has more details.

Mosul was seized by ISIL extremists in 2014 and is the last major stronghold of the terrorist organization in Iraq.

It's a battle which many predict could last weeks or even months.

Speaking from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, Lise Grande, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, said the UN is extremely concerned about civilians caught in the city.

"Civilians are at extreme risk from crossfire, from possible artillery barrage. We understand that ISIL has booby trapped large parts of the city. We're very worried about snipers. Also, in a worst case scenario we can't rule out the possibility that there might be a chemical weapons attack. We also fear that ISIL, as they did in Fallujah, may try and hold civilian populations either as human shields or forcibly expel huge number of civilians in the face of an attack by the Iraqi security forces, knowing that the Iraqi security forces will not fire on their own people."

It's thought up to 1.5 million people living in Mosul who may be impacted by the military offensive.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1'13"

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