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Relentless tragedy

Relentless tragedy

There are recent reports of Iraqi government forces opening a front in the besieged city of Mosul, which could speed up its offensive against the Islamic State. Since October 2016, when government forces had moved to retake the city from the terror group, it has become a gruelling war of attrition. This has reportedly left thousands of civilians trapped on an urban battlefield. There are approximately 500,000 people stuck inside the western part of Mosul, scrounging for food and water. The body count is piling up by the day and survivors trapped there have barely any time to keep count of the dead, never mind burying them. For the uninitiated, Mosul is Iraq's second-largest city with a population of 2 million. In July 2014, the Islamic State took over the city in a breathtaking show of efficiency and brutality. Any attempt by government forces to enter the city is being met by car bombs and snipers positioned on the rooftops of homes. With the aid of the United States military, coalition forces are pounding the city from the air, without little concern for the civilian cost. "Nearly half a million civilians, already struggling to feed themselves day to day, are now without access to clean drinking water. The impact on children, women and families will be catastrophic," said Lise Grande, UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, late last year.

Reports indicate that airstrikes have severely damaged water pipes, and residents are now forced to dig deep into wells scrounging for water. The humanitarian cost of the civil strife that has gripped Iraq since US-led forces decided to invade in 2003 is beyond comprehension. Akin to the situation in Syria, the war against Islamic State has devastated entire communities and wreaked untold violence and misery on its people. One of the enduring tragedies of this civil war has been the utter failure of the international community, primarily the United Nations, in working out a peace deal. It is fair to argue that global powers, especially the United States and Russia, have shown no real appetite to work out a compromise deal on Syria. Instead, as the conflict has progressed, both sides have been dragged further into this quagmire.

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