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Iraqi troops dig in ahead of final push into Mosul

Poor weather has hampered the advance. Credit: Reuters

Iraqi special forces are holding their positions along Mosul's eastern outskirts as poor weather hampers their advance into the city to oust the so-called Islamic State.

Military chief Brigadier General Haider Fadhil said they did not plan to make any further advance into the terrorist stronghold on Wednesday because clouds could obscure the view of aircraft and drones.

Troops have made a swift advance to the outskirts of Mosul in recent weeks. However they have warned it could take months to finally drive out IS from the city.

UNICEF: 20,000 children trapped in Fallujah

Shi'ite fighters gather near Falluja, Iraq on Tuesday. Credit: Reuters

An estimated 20,000 children are trapped in the city of Fallujah as Iraqi forces continue their fight against so-called Islamic State, UNICEF has said.

There are warnings of a "human catastrophe" unfolding in the city, with around 50,000 civilians thought to the stuck with a lack of food, medicine, safe drinking water and electricity.

The UN have reported people starving to death in the city and being killed for refusing to fight for terror groups.

Children face the risk of forced recruitment into the fighting, strict procedures for security screening and separation from their families.

Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardized as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war.

UNICEF calls on all parties to protect children inside Fallujah, provide safe passage to those wishing to leave the city and grant safe and secure environments to displaced civilians.

– UNICEF statement

Aid agency fears 'human catastrophe' in Fallujah

Iraqi security forces gather near Falluja Credit: Reuters / Alaa Al-Marjani

An aid agency has warned of a "human catastrophe" unfolding in the Iraq city of Fallujah.

Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said only one family had managed to escape the besieged town on Monday.

"Warring parties must guarantee civilians safe exit now, before it's too late and more lives are lost", Egeland said.

Egeland's comments come on the day Iraqi forces repelled a four-hour counterattack, a day after entering the southern part of the city.

He added a lack of food, medicine, safe drinking water and electricity is "pushing families to the brink of desperation".

It is estimated that 50,000 civilians are still inside Fallujah and humanitarian groups have renewed calls on both sides to open up safe corridors for non-combatants to flee.

This appears unlikely as IS and the Iraqi forces need to agree on a cessation of hostilities - whilst Iraqi authorities want to prevent IS fighters from escaping the city by mixing with the fleeing civilian population.

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