UN secretary-general starts official visit to Iraq

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31 March, 2017

Backed by a US-led worldwide coalition, Iraqi forces launched an operation in February to drive IS from the western half of Iraq's second-largest city, after declaring eastern Mosul "fully liberated" the previous month.

Shortly after landing at Baghdad International Airport, Guterres said on Twitter that his visit is to "focus on the dire humanitarian situation on the ground". The U.N. chief also plans to meet leaders in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

Iraqi special forces and police fought ISIL to edge closer to the al-Nuri mosque in western Mosul on Wednesday, tightening their control around the landmark site.

The United Nations Secretary-General has arrived in Iraq amid a growing humanitarian crisis due to months-long fighting against the Daesh group in Mosul.

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Thousands more are still caught up in the crossfire of the battle inside the city. Three policemen are among the dead while the rest were civilians.

Abadi accused IS militants of "intentionally using civilians as human shields, while intensifying their propaganda machine to spread rumours" that Iraqi forces and global aircraft caused casualties among civilians.

Guterres's visit to Baghdad was preceded by an attack by the IS in which at least 14 people were killed and 36 were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden truck at a checkpoint in the south entrance to the capital.

Amnesty's Donatella Rovera said field research in east Mosul - which was recaptured from IS in January - showed "an alarming pattern of US-led coalition air strikes which have destroyed whole houses with entire families inside".


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