Nearly three times as many Iraqi troops were killed last month as in October, UN figures show
Iraqi forces' advance has slowed since they entered Mosul, where ISIS fighters are deeply entrenched
Nearly 2,000 Iraqi troops were killed across Iraq in November as they battled to force ISIS extremists from the country, according to newly released UN figures.
That’s nearly triple the number of military casualties reported in October, when an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS first began.
The toll for November includes Iraqi army, police in combat, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and allied militias.
The Iraqi-led coalition forces’ advance slowed after Iraqi Security Forces entered Mosul last month, a densely populated urban environment where troops have had to fight street-to-street battles against deeply entrenched militants.
Civilians in the city also are paying a heavy price.
Mosul residents were encouraged by the central government in Baghdad to stay in their homes, forcing a softening of tactics to prevent civilian casualties. The policy, which is meant to avert the potential humanitarian crisis that could be created by a mass exodus, could itself be costing lives.
“In its desperate attempt to cling on to territory it controls in Mosul and Ninevah areas, Daesh has been employing the most vicious tactics, using civilian homes as firing positions as well as abducting and forcibly moving civilians, effectively using them as human shields,” the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, said in a statement. Daesh is an alternative name for ISIS.
More than 900 civilians were killed and another 930 wounded in November by terrorism, violence or armed conflict across Iraq, according to the UN report released Thursday.
Another 76,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
And at least half a million people caught in the crossfire inside Mosul now have no access to running water, the United Nations told CNN on Wednesday.
Preparing to converge on Mosul
Iraqi forces have entirely surrounded Mosul and now, 45 days into the battle, their focus is on consolidating recent gains before pressing forward with the offensive.
Seven axes of coalition forces are approaching Mosul from different sides. Some fronts are holding their position while other fronts catch up, to allow the nearly 100,000 troops to converge more or less simultaneously on the city, military officials told CNN.
They face many obstacles.
Some 632 ISIS car bombs, some guided by drones, have been used to attack Iraqi troops, according to Iraq’s Joint Operations Command.
ISIS has also used booby traps, homemade bombs and snipers to slow the sweeping gains made by Iraqi forces in the open fields surrounding Mosul into grind