Between 1 and 1.5 million people live in Mosul, and humanitarian agencies have warned of a potential crisis if hundreds of thousands of people flee the city, with winter approaching. Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, stated, "In a worst-case scenario, we re literally looking at the single largest humanitarian operation in the world in 2016." Save the Children warned that massive civilian bloodshed was likely unless safe routes were allowed to let civilians flee .
ISIL has reportedly threatened to execute civilians trying to flee. Snipers, landmines and trenches are preventing people from attempting to escape. Iraqi officials, via radio broadcasts and leaflets dropped over the city, warned civilians to stay in their homes. Leaflets advised residents of various precautions to take including instructions to tape over their windows to protect from flying glass and to disconnect gas pipes
Italian Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, arrived in Erbil on 17 October to meet with Kurdish officials The UN has set up five refugees camps capable of taking up to 45,000 people and has the capability of taking in up to 120,000 if more sites are available for camps. Dozens of families from Mosul arrived in the al-Hawl camp in Rojava, Northern Syria, bringing the number of Iraqis in al-Hawl to more than 6,000. The UN is attempting to communicate with citizens inside Mosul that they should not flee to the west of the city toward Syria, an area still under ISIL control, but to the camps in the east.
On 18 October, more than 2,000 refugees from Mosul were attempting to cross into Syria, according to the People s Defense Units (YPG)The Battle of Mosul is a joint offensive by Iraqi government forces with allied militias, Iraqi Kurdistan, and international forces to retake the city of Mosul from ISIL. The offensive to take the city began on 16 October 2016. The battle for Mosul is considered key in the military intervention against ISIL , which seized the city in June 2014. It is the largest deployment of Iraqi forces since the 2003 invasion by U.S. and coalition forces.. .The operation follows the Mosul offensive in 2015 and Mosul offensive in 2016. Up to 1.5 million civilians live in the city-;- there are fears of a massive humanitarian crisis and that civilians could be used as human shields by ISIL
Iraqi security forces and Kurdish pesh merga fighters have begun an assault to dislodge Islamic State militants from the city of Mosul. Here are some reasons the city is strategically and symbolically vital.
POPULATION Mosul, once home to more than two million residents, was the biggest prize captured by the Islamic State. It gave the group its best claim to legitimacy as an Islamic caliphate, and it has been its most vital source of tax revenue and forced labor.
RELIEF If recaptured, the city could eventually welcome back hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced. It is also where hundreds of enslaved Yazidi women and children are thought to be held.
CULTURE Mosul is an ancient Assyrian city and a vital center of antiquities and historical sites threatened by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL´-or-Daesh. The city’s heritage makes it central to Iraqi identity and hopes that the country might again move forward as a multicultural society.
DEMOGRAPHICS In a country dominated by Shiite political groups, Mosul is the biggest Sunni-dominated city. It was also the center of the biggest Christian population before the Islamic State invasion.
RESOURCES The Islamic State’s chemical weapons operation is based in the city, and the group got a huge boost from raiding American armories there. Mosul commands critical road networks and physical resources, and it was also where the group rebuilt in secrecy when it was known as Al Qaeda in Iraq.