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UN: Thousands Flee Mosul as Military Siege Intensifies

Displaced Iraqis, who fled fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, return to their homes in neighborhoods retaken by Iraqi government forces in the eastern side of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

Thousands of Iraqis have been forced to flee Mosul during the past five days, since U.S.-led military forces began a second phase in the operation to free the city from the grip of Islamic State militants, U.N. officials say.

The severely outnumbered militants have taken to embedding themselves with civilians, leading to an increase in the number of civilian casualties. As a result, the United Nations says more than 13,000 people have fled Mosul since the operations were restarted on December 29.

The coalition forces have retaken about a quarter of the city since October and humanitarian aid is being dispersed into new neighborhoods as IS fighters are cleared out of eastern Mosul.

“The average daily displacement numbers have increased by nearly 50 percent since military operations intensified, about 1,600 to more than 2,300 displaced per day,” U.N. Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said Wednesday.

Nearly 130,000 people have fled Mosul as a result of the ongoing military operations, most of whom came from eastern districts already liberated by Iraqi forces.

According to Dujarric, more than 1,000 cubic meters of water, along with food and other goods, are being delivered each day to Mosul neighborhoods.