Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) More than 4000 displaced Iraqi families returned on Monday to their residences at areas recaptured from Islamic State militants by security forces in eastern Mosul, the migration ministry said.
Mostafa Hamed, the ministry’s encampments official, said in a statement that those had been sheltered at the camps of Hassan Sham and al-Khazer in Nineveh.
He said more families are to be repatriated at the towns of Qayyara and Gogjali within the coming days.
Battles between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants who held Mosul since 2014 have entered their third month, with the government forces claiming to have cleared almost the whole of the city’s eastern side. Battles have displaced 181.000 civilians, according to the ministry’s latest toll, and the United Nations, upon the launch of security operations, had predicted at least one million people to leave homes due to the violence.
There are hundreds thousands of civilians still stranded in the Islamic State-held western regions, the next target for Iraqi forces operations.
IS fighters have both shot at and executed civilians attempting to flee areas under their control, according to aid groups and security officials who also said that civilians are being used as human shields. The existence of civilians at battlefields has been one reason behind the slowdown of operations at some stages.