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350,000 children caught up in the battle to free Mosul

THE battle to drive Daesh from its last Iraqi stronghold will put more than 350,000 children at risk, Save the Children has warned.

Hundreds of Iraqi tanks and heavy vehicles began their assault on the west of the city of Mosul yesterday and took two villages on the outskirts as fighting raged around the airport. Save the Children’s director for the country Maurizio Crivallero said: ‘The impact of artillery and other explosive weaponry in those narrow, densely populated streets is likely to be more deadly and indiscriminate than anything we have seen in the conflict so far. The grim choice for children in western Mosul right now is bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay, or execution and snipers if they try to run.’

He called on the UK and US to protect civilians as Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi told state TV he would ‘liberate the people of Mosul from Daesh oppression forever’.

Five people — including two civilians — have been killed in two separate bomb attacks in the government-held east of the city.

Aram Shakaram, the charity’s deputy director in Iraq, called for secure escape routes. ‘We have not seen anyone who has made it to safety,’ he said.