Thousands flee as Iraq bombs Isis-held town

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August 16, 2017
A boy looks at the camera in this 12 August, 2017, photo, as displaced women and children sit on the ground at a collection point for displaced people west of Mosul. (AP Photo/Balint Szlanko)

BADOUSH, Iraq (AP):

Thousands of Iraqis have fled an Isis-held town west of Mosul as Iraqi and coalition warplanes step up strikes ahead of a ground offensive to drive out the militants.

Tal Afar and the surrounding area is one of the last pockets of Isis-held territory in Iraq after victory was declared in July in Mosul, the country's second-largest city.

The town, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) east of the Syrian border, sits along a major road that was once a key ISIS supply route.

On Monday, hundreds of exhausted civilians were brought by Iraqi army trucks from the front line to a humanitarian collection point just west of Mosul.

Many described a harrowing journey of a day or more from Tal Afar, with no food or water.

The United Nations said some 49,000 people have fled the Tal Afar district since April, compounding a humanitarian crisis that has lingered despite the cessation of major fighting inside Mosul.

It said nearly a million people were displaced by the Mosul campaign.