By Ulf Laessing and Maher Chmaytelli | MOSUL/BAGHDAD, IRAQ
Fighting between Iraqi troops and Islamic State militants has cut water supplies across a large part of Mosul, where poorer families are already struggling to feed themselves, and a local official said the increasingly encircled city was in crisis.
Water was cut to 650,000 people – or 40 percent of residents – when a pipeline was hit during fighting between the jihadists and U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces trying to crush them in their northern Iraq stronghold, a local official said.
“We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Hussam al-Abar, a member of Mosul’s Nineveh provincial council, adding that 1.5 million people were still inside Mosul. He said the pipeline ran through a contested part of the city and could not be reached by repair teams.
“Basic services such as water, electricity, health, food are non-existent,” he said, standing in an eastern suburb while mortars were fired inside the city.
The battle for Mosul has already raged for six weeks. An alliance of Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led air power, have surrounded it and elite troops have seized eastern districts, but face deadly and determined resistance…. [read more]