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Desperate Mosul residents overwhelm aid delivery trucks

Chaos erupted in eastern Mosul when hundreds of civilians overwhelmed aid trucks distributing food and water.

The Iraqi government sent lorries packed with food, heating oil and drinking water to residents in areas retaken from the Islamic State group in and around Mosul after aid groups warned of shortages in the city, which has been the target of a major offensive since October.

Resident Abu Ahmed said: "There is no justice. Some people took so many bags of food and others got nothing."

While the trucks bore banners identifying them as distributing aid on behalf of the local government, there were no government or security officials present during the melee that ensued on the eastern edge of the city.

Men, women and children fought over bags of flour and baskets of apples.

"We are desperate, this is the first time I've seen aid trucks," Abu Ahmed said. He said the food and water residents had stockpiled before the start of the operation had run out.

Diaa Sallal, a senior Iraqi relief official, said supplies are being delivered to the towns of Bartella and Qayara, near Mosul, as well as two outlying Mosul neighbourhoods.

Iraq's government called on civilians to remain in their homes during the operation to retake Mosul, fearing a mass exodus from the city, which is still home to hundreds of thousands of people.

But as the battle has ground on, with Iraqi forces making slow progress in street-by-street battles, supplies of food and water have dwindled.

Heavy clashes flared in eastern Mosul on Sunday, with both sides exchanging gunfire from rooftops in the Shaimaa area. IS militants shelled the district with a heavy barrage of mortar rounds, according to reporters at the scene.

Scores of families braved the fighting to flee IS-held districts for the relative safety of neighbourhoods retaken by government troops or camps for the displaced outside the city.

Deeper inside Mosul, another aid distribution in the Bakr area was more organised. Hundreds of men and women lined up along a residential street as Iraqi special forces handed out boxes of aid.

But with the front-line just over a 100 metres away, only a small number of aid trucks could reach the area.



From Belfast Telegraph