World Bulletin / News Desk
“Protection of civilians in Mosul is the main mission of our armed forces and all Iraqis,” Masum said in a statement released Monday.
The Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched a much-awaited operation late Sunday to retake Mosul – the last ISIL stronghold in northern Iraq, which was overrun by the extremist group in 2014.
Masum called for providing all kinds of support and facilities to Iraqis displaced from their areas.
“The collapse of ISIL gangs is inevitable,” he said.
For his part, firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for promoting unity among Iraqis.
“We don’t want the Mosul liberation to turn into a sectarian warfare,” al-Sadr said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warned that up to 100,000 Iraqis might flee towards Syria and Turkey following the Mosul offensive.
Speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, Grandi underlined the need to protect civilians during the battle.
“The protection of civilians is the most important element of this operation from our perspective,” he said.
UNHCR said it has five camps open and ready to shelter 45,000 people fleeing Mosul and surrounding areas.
"A total of 11 camps will be opened in the coming weeks, with a capacity of 120,000 people, provided land can be set aside in safe areas away from the frontlines," UNCHR said on its website.
UNHCR said it would also provide 50,000 emergency shelter kits to aid up to 300,000 people outside camps with an anticipation of increased displacement; in addition to 25,000 tents to shelter up to 150,000 people and 30,000 “sealing off kits,” for a further 180,000 people.
According to UNHCR, nearly 3.3 million people have been displaced in Iraq due to the unrest in the country.
UNICEF also warned on Monday that more than half a million children and their families in Mosul would be at "extreme risk" in the coming weeks.
"Mosul’s children have already suffered immensely over the past two years. Many could be forcibly displaced, trapped between fighting lines, or caught in the cross fire," said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.
In mid-2014, ISIL captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, before overrunning vast swathes of territory in the country’s north and west.
Recent months have seen the Iraqi army, backed by local allies on the ground and the U.S.-led air coalition, retake much territory. Nevertheless, the extremist group remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.
In recent weeks, the army and its allies have staged a gradual advance on Mosul, which officials in Baghdad have vowed to "liberate" by year’s end.