Mosul residents fear cold and hunger of winter siege

Mosul residents fear cold and hunger of winter siege

A man of Iraqi refugees, who left the base in Mosul Islamic State, cradling her daughter seen by her grandmother through the fence at the camp Khazer, Iraq, Monday (Nov. 28, 2016). (REUTERS/Mohammed Salem )

We`ve been living under a real state of siege for a week."
Baghdad (ANTARA News) - No food or fuel has reached Mosul in nearly a week and the onset of rain and cold weather threatens a tough winter for more than a million people still in Islamic State-held areas of the city, residents said.

Iraqi troops waging a six-week-old offensive against the militants controlling Mosul have advanced into eastern city districts, while other forces have sealed Mosuls southern and northern approaches and 10 days ago blocked the road west.

But their advance has been hampered by waves of counter-attacks from the ultra-hardline Islamists who have controlled the city since mid-2014 and built a network of tunnels in preparation for their defence of north Iraqs largest city, Reuters reported.

The slow progress means the campaign is likely to drag on throughout the winter, and has prompted warnings from aid groups that civilians face a near complete siege in the coming months.

A trader in Mosul, speaking by telephone, said no new food or fuel supplies had reached the city since Sunday.

Despite attempts by the militants to keep prices stable, and the arrest last week of dozens of shopkeepers accused of hiking prices, the trader said food had become more expensive and fuel prices had tripled.

"Weve been living under a real state of siege for a week," said one resident of west Mosul, several miles (km) from the frontline neighbourhoods on the east bank of the Tigris river.

"Two days ago the electricity generator supplying the neighbourhood stopped working because of lack of fuel. Water is cut and food prices have risen and its terribly cold. We fear the days ahead will be much worse".

A pipeline supplying water to around 650,000 people in Mosul was hit during fighting this week between the army and Islamic State. A local official said it could not be fixed because the damage was in an area still being fought over.

Winter conditions will also hit the nearly 80,000 people registered by the United Nations as displaced since the start of the Mosul campaign. That number excludes many thousands more who were forcibly moved by Islamic State, or fled from the fighting deeper into territory under its control.