Iraqi forces ready to take western Mosul

A military vehicle of Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces is seen at the site of car bomb attack during a battle with Islamic State militants in Andalus neighborhood of Mosul, Iraq, January 17, 2017.(REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani)

The Iraqi Armed Forces have declared they are ready for an offensive to purge Islamic State (IS) militants from the western part of Mosul after capturing the eastern part of the city.

A spokesperson for Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, said that they are “preparing an operation in the next two, three days, to back up the operation to retake the right bank” of the city.

Mosul is split by the Tigris River, with its eastern half known as the left bank and the western side as the right bank. The city is considered Islamic State’s last urban stronghold in Iraq.

UN: 750,000 civilians living in militant-held western Mosul

Tuesday, the United Nations and several international organisations stated that an estimated 750,000 civilians are still living in the IS-controlled western Mosul.

Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, expressed concern about the living condition of the civilians amid soaring prices of basic goods and intermittent water and electricity supply, saying the locals are “at extreme risk and we fear for their lives.”

Most of the Iraqis, who are trapped in Mosul, are believed to have been prevented from leaving the city by Islamic State (IS), which has reportedly routinely used civilians as human shields.