The Latest: UN says over 68,000 displaced by Mosul operation

AP News
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Posted: Nov 22, 2016 1:47 PM
The Latest: UN says over 68,000 displaced by Mosul operation

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest in the month-long campaign to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

A U.N. spokesman says that the number of displaced people fleeing the military operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group has grown to over 68,000.

Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday that 8,300 Iraqis were displaced from the city and outlying districts over the past four days, citing figures from the U.N.-linked International Organization for Migration.

He the majority of the displaced, 59,200, came from the districts surrounding Mosul and the rest from inside the city.

Iraqi troops are advancing cautiously in order to avoid casualties in the city where an estimated one million people remain.

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2 p.m.

A new analysis has found that the Islamic State group has used chemical weapons at least 52 times since 2014 in Iraq and Syria, including 19 times in the Mosul area alone.

It says there's a high risk that the group will deploy the weapons again in Mosul against civilians or the military forces trying to retake the northern Iraqi city. IHS Markit released the analysis on Tuesday.

The analysis says Mosul was a center for chemical weapons production for the Sunni militant group, but experts believe IS moved the materials and experts to Syria ahead of the U.S.-backed Iraqi offensive that began last month.

IHS concluded that chlorine and mustard agents are the most likely chemicals to be used in Mosul.

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12:45 p.m.

Iraq's foreign minister says progress in liberating the northern city of Mosul has been slowed by the Islamic State group's use of civilians as human shields.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari said during a visit to Hungary on Tuesday that 1,700 IS fighters have been killed and 120 captured in the battle for Mosul so far.

He says one third of the Ninevah province, where Mosul is the capital, has been freed from IS.

Al-Jaafari says 62,000 refugees have left the city — much fewer than was expected by authorities — and that Iraq is "prepared to receive many more."

Al-Jaafari, who signed a double taxation agreement with his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, also said Iraq needed to increase its crude oil output, which he said provided 90 percent of state budget revenues, and be exempt from OPEC output quotas because of its "extraordinary situation."

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10:05 a.m.

A senior Iraqi commander says troops are moving to take another neighborhood in the eastern sector of the northern city of Mosul but are meeting stiff resistance from Islamic State militants.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadel of the special forces tells The Associated Press that IS fighters are targeting his forces with rockets and mortars as they slowly advance in the densely populated al-Zohour neighborhood on Tuesday.

He says they're "cautiously advancing."

Iraq's military launched a campaign on Oct. 17 to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the last major IS urban bastion in the country. Most gains have been made by the special forces operating east of the Tigris River. Other forces are advancing on the city from different directions, and the U.S.-led coalition is providing airstrikes and other support.

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This story has been corrected to show that the Islamic State group is believed to have used chemical weapons 52 times in Iraq and Syria since 2014, not 71 times.