Liberation of Mosul: A new catastrophe?  

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Liberation of Mosul: A new catastrophe?   
We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating plight of the civilians in Mosul, who are paying an excessively high price for their liberation from terrorists.

We have seen devastating consequences of the first phase of the military operation in the eastern districts of Mosul, where the Coalition applied doubtful tactics to push terrorists out of the city. Those efforts led to deplorable results: at least 1,500 civilians were killed and over 160,000 were displaced. During that brutal fighting about 60 percent of administrative buildings, 90 percent of transport infrastructure, 15 percent of residential buildings and 30 percent of schools were ruined.

The Karama and Aden districts were among the most heavily affected areas, where water and electricity supplies, telephone communications and TV broadcasts were completely destroyed. The health care system was paralyzed by almost total destruction of two local hospitals. All five bridges across the Tigris River were destroyed. The residents now rely entirely on humanitarian assistance, which is obviously in short supply.

A military operation in the Western districts of Mosul with more than 750,000 people has recently begun. The greater density of population questions the possibility of using aviation, artillery and armored vehicles. According to the Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 307 people were killed and another 273 wounded between 17 February and 22 March. The most deadly incidents occurred on 17 March, when an airstrike hit a house in al-Jadida neighborhood in western Mosul. At least 200 people, according to different estimates, are reported to have been killed by the US-led Coalition. And US Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend has confirmed publicly a role of US warplanes in this deadly raid.

We have every reason to believe that the Americans and their allies will use the same tactics of "liberation", but in fact "mass cleanings" in other cities in Iraq and in Raqqa (Syria) as well. In Mosul there are no humanitarian corridors for the people to escape the city, no medical and humanitarian assistance to help them survive. This bears no comparison to what the Russian military did during the operation in Eastern Aleppo by stopping any sorties in and around the city and providing humanitarian exits both for civilians and fighters. Not to mention the endgame, i.e. the massive civilized evacuation of 35,000 civilians and fighters, safely transported to areas not under government control. It is also surprising to hear almost no assessments from the Western media of such unprofessional and careless approach of the Coalition in Mosul.

We call upon our partners to do everything to avoid civilian casualties.

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