Middle East

Mosul Iraq battle: Bad weather slows advance inside city

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Media captionThe BBC's Quentin Sommerville and cameraman Nik Millard joined a patrol of special forces

Iraqi forces have paused their advance into Mosul due to bad weather, a month after launching an offensive to retake the city from so-called Islamic State.

A general said poor visibility was limiting the ability of aircraft to provide cover, adding that troops would secure eastern areas they had entered.

IS militants were putting up fierce resistance, using snipers, booby traps and suicide car bombs.

Seven civilians were reportedly killed by mortar fire in one recaptured area.

Mosul, which was captured by IS in June 2014, is the jihadist group's last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

Our correspondent Richard Galpin in Irbil answered your questions about Mosul on Facebook Live - click here to watch

About 50,000 Iraqi security forces personnel, soldiers, police, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen are involved in the offensive.

In the first two weeks of the operation, they advanced rapidly from the east and south-east, seizing outlying towns and villages despite strong resistance.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption An IS suicide car bomb attack targeted special forces in the Tahrir district on Thursday
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Seven civilians were also reportedly killed and 35 wounded by IS mortar fire in Samah

On 1 November, special forces and army units entered the eastern outskirts of the city at two points and were able to establish footholds there.

Two weeks later, progress towards the centre is slow, reports the BBC's Richard Galpin in Irbil.

IS has not shown any sign of weakening, our correspondent adds, and is using snipers and large numbers of suicide bombers to pin down troops in densely populated areas where manoeuvring armoured vehicles is not easy.

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Media captionWho's fighting whom in battle for Mosul?

The militants are also reported to be using civilians as human shields.

And forces advancing from the north and south have still not entered the city.

Our correspondent says that unless there is a sudden collapse in the resistance now being put up by IS, the battle for Mosul is likely to continue for weeks.

The UN has warned that in areas retaken by Iraqi forces, civilian infrastructure such as water and power plants, schools and hospitals are damaged and medical services are often unavailable.

Families are going hungry due to lost livelihoods, disrupted food production and supply, and food prices are rising at markets, it said.

Many people are being forced to drink untreated water from wells, while children are going unvaccinated and are unable to go to school.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Supplies of food are said to be running low in areas recently recaptured by the government
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Almost 59,000 people have been displaced since the Mosul offensive began

Almost 59,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, about 26,000 of them children. More than 40,000 have found shelter in formal camps, while 13,000 others have been taken in by host communities or are living in public facilities.

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Media captionThe BBC's Quentin Sommerville and cameraman Nik Millard joined a patrol of special forces

As many as one million people could be at risk in the combat zone itself.