UPDATED: 200.000 civilians repatriated in eastern Mosul, more evacuated in west

Displaced families. File photo.

Mosul ( Iraqi migration authorities said Thursday that 200.000 civilians had been returned to their home areas in eastern Mosul, more than four months since Iraqi forces drove Islamic State militants out of it.

Satar Nawrooz, spokesperson of the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement, said those represent 95 percent of families displaced from eastern Mosul since the launch of security operations to liberate the city in October. He said war leftovers and the life threat they pose hinder the repatriation of civilians displaced in western Mosul/

Iraqi security forces said earlier on Thursday they had evacuated more civilians from the battlefield in western Mosul as encounters continue with Islamic State militants near their last bastion in the Old City.

The Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response forces said in a statement it evacuated more families stranded in a house in IS-held areas at al-Shifa neighborhood, the last district remaining under IS control near the Old City.

The statement said troops ran into rest houses and booby-trapping workshops in the neighborhood.

Iraqi commanders have recently said that a few hundred IS fighters remained in the Old City, the group’s last refuge in western Mosul from where the group first declared the establishment of its rule over a third of both Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Iraqi government forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January and pushed towards the western side of the city in mid February.

Islamic State militants have regularly shot at or executed civilians trying to flee areas under their control in Mosul since operations launched in October to retake the city. There are at least 180.000 people believed to be stranded inside the Old City and held by IS to be used as human shields. The war in Mosul has so far displaced at least 800.000 civilians.

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