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Aid groups warn of chaos after Mosul civilians told to flee

Iraqi forces launched their final push to reclaim the last districts of Mosul still under Islamic State control on Saturday, considered the most hard stage of this battle against the militants now in its eighth month.

General Shaban Nasiri, high-ranking commander of the IRGC, was killed during clashes with the IS in the area between Qairawan and Baaj on May 26.

Mosul is Iraq's second-largest city after the capital Baghdad and was a key logistical and economic hub for IS when the extremists' footprint spanned much of Iraq's north and into neighboring Syria.

Kojo and the other villages of the Sinjar mountain region will be returned to the Yazidi community, a Popular Mobilisation leader, Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, told Iraqi state television.

United Nations humanitarian relief coordinator Lise Grande has said that civilians are facing great hardship Iraqi city of Mosul as military assault entered in to final phase in the city.

More than 580,000 civilians have also been displaced by the fighting, among them 419,000 from western Mosul, the Iraqi authorities say.

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Along with the militants still in parts of the city, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians remain trapped in their homes, creating the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe if they are not evacuated safely. Fighting, especially in the city's west, has been ferocious, leaving Iraqi forces with thousands of casualties.

Dillon said ISIS realized it would not win the Mosul battle and therefore its militants now aim to kill as many people as they can to prevent life in the city from returning to normal.

After almost eight months of fighting Iraqi forces appear poised to retake what was once the Islamic State's largest stronghold in Iraq and the birthplace of its caliphate. ISIS has lost 21,200 square miles (55,000 square kilometers) of territory and regained none of it, the Pentagon said recently.

Mosul's wide-scale military operation was launched in October and its eastern half was declared liberated in January.

Also Saturday, May 27, 2017, aid groups said they are concerned for the safety of civilians following calls from Iraq's government for residents of the Islamic State-held Old City to flee the area immediately.

Iraq's elite counter-terrorism units, the regular army and the federal police - supported by the air power of the US-led coalition - launched the new phase on Saturday. Save the Children warned that fleeing civilians could be caught in the crossfire, leading to "deadly chaos" in a statement Friday. Mosul residents have been suffering from food shortages for months, a hardship expected to be exacerbated during the holy month of Ramadan that began Friday night, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.

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