World Bulletin / News Desk
The first four months of the Iraqi offensive on Mosul were marked by relatively low displacement but the civilians who remain in the city's west face more dangers than ever.
Since the Mosul offensive against the ISIL group was launched in October, around 200,000 civilians are estimated to have fled their homes, and some 50,000 have already returned, according to the United Nations.
In the early stages of the offensive, the army dropped tens of thousands of leaflets into Mosul, some bearing safety instructions for residents, most of whom remained in the city.
This prevented both sides from resorting to heavier weapons, avoiding large-scale destruction, as was the case in the battles of Fallujah and Ramadi.
"We know that IS targets people who try to flee, causing many casualties," Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a top commander of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service that did most of the fighting, told AFP.
"Of course it would be easier for us to bomb the extremists with heavy weapons if the city was emptied of its inhabitants, but as our main goal is to preserve the lives of civilians, we are convinced they will be better protected if they stay at home rather than try to flee," he said, stressing this strategy had been a "success" in the east.Last Mod: 19 Şubat 2017, 12:37