Over 200,000 displaced by west Mosul battle: Iraq ministry

 Iraqi civilians evacuate the area as the Iraqi counter-terrorism service (CTS) advance towards the Yabasat neighbourhood on March 23, 2017.
Iraqi civilians evacuate the area as the Iraqi counter-terrorism service (CTS) advance towards the Yabasat neighbourhood on March 23, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD (AFP) - More than 200,000 people have fled fighting in west Mosul since the operation to retake the area from jihadists was launched last month, Iraq's ministry of migration and displaced said Saturday (March 25).

The battle for west Mosul - the most populated urban area still held by the Islamic State group - was launched on February 19, and Iraqi forces have since recaptured a series of neighbourhoods from the jihadists.

"The number of displaced from the areas of the right bank (west side) of the city of Mosul has risen to 201,275 people," the ministry said in a statement.

ISIS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since retaken most of the territory they lost.

Iraqi forces launched the operation to recapture Mosul in October, retaking the east of the city before setting their sights on the smaller but more densely populated west.

The United Nations said Thursday that there were some 600,000 people still in west Mosul, 400,000 of whom are "trapped" in the Old City area under siege-like conditions.