French journalist dies in Iraq after being wounded in Mosul

French journalist Stephan Villeneuve

(Reuters/ French journalist Stephane Villeneuve has died in Iraq after succumbing to wounds suffered in an explosion in Mosul earlier this week, the French foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The mine explosion killed Iraqi journalist Bakhtiyar Haddad and left reporter Veronique Robert wounded, while another freelance reporter suffered minor injuries.

Islamic State fighters have been defending their remaining stronghold in the Old City of Mosul, moving stealthily along narrow back alleys as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces slowly advance.

Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January and launched another offensive in February to retake the west. There are a few hundred fighters from the Islamic State believed to remain in the Old City, stranding 100.000 civilians who leave the region with difficulty under IS snipers fires.

In December, a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said seven reporters were killed in Iraq in 2016, out of a total of 57 who were killed in conflict areas across the world, putting Iraq 158th on its world index.

In October, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Iraq was the world’s top country in terms of impunity regarding journalists’ killing, attributing the fact to the involvement of extremist militias in the murders.

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