BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the battle in Iraq, now entering its fourth week, to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):
The U.N. health agency says it has set up 82 “rapid response teams” to manage risks of epidemics, chemicals exposure and other health worries among people fleeing Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul.
The World Health Organization says that water and sanitation in camps for displaced people could “face disruptions” as the numbers of those who fled Mosul is growing, raising the risk of food- and water-borne diseases such as cholera.
In its statement on Monday, WHO also says that additional concerns include children who reportedly haven’t been immunized since the radical Islamic State group seized control of Iraq’s second largest city in June 2014.
Iraqi government forces have been leading an effort to expel IS, and numerous U.N. agencies have been mobilizing to help civilians who are expected to flee Mosul in massive numbers. About 1 million people are believed to be still living in the IS-held city.
Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fighters with militants as they advance from two directions on a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul.
The town of Bashiqa has been surrounded by Kurdish forces known as peshmerga for weeks. Monday’s push appears to be the most serious yet to drive IS from the area, which is about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Mosul.
Kurdish forces launched mortar rounds and fired heavy artillery into the town on Sunday in advance of the offensive.
As the Kurdish forces advance, more artillery and air strikes are hitting the town.
The three-week-long Mosul offensive has slowed down in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas of the city.
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