UN Temporarily Pausing Aid to Eastern Mosul Due to Security

Hassan Sham Camp, Iraq (AP) -- The United Nations said Wednesday it was temporarily pausing aid operations to neighborhoods in the eastern half of the Iraqi city of Mosul as attacks by the Islamic State group continue to inflict heavy civilian casualties there.

Lise Grande, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said U.N. agencies "made the decision that until security improves, it will be difficult for us to provide assistance." She spoke during a visit to a camp for Iraqis displaced from Mosul on Wednesday.

Iraq declared Mosul's eastern half "fully liberated" last month, and a semblance of normalcy returned to many areas, with schools, shops and restaurants reopening. But some neighborhoods continue to be hit by insurgent attacks.

The IS group is still firmly in control of western Mosul, across from the Tigris River, which runs through the heart of Iraq's second largest city. Iraqi forces are moving into position ahead of an anticipated assault on Mosul's western half.

"We have every confidence that the authorities will provide security. As soon as it improves, the United Nations agencies will be there to deliver assistance," Grande said.

An IS suicide bomber struck a recently reopened restaurant in eastern Mosul on Friday, killing four people. A clinic in Mosul's Zahra neighborhood said it continues to receive dozens of wounded civilians every day from mortar and IS drone attacks.

Thousands of people living in eastern Mosul lack access to drinking water and fuel for cooking and heating.

Elsewhere in Iraq on Wednesday, a car bomb killed at least 17 people and wounded 45 others in the capital, Baghdad, according to a police officer and a medical official. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

IS captured Mosul in the summer of 2014 when it swept across much of northern and central Iraq. The militants have suffered several battlefield defeats since then, but have continued to carry out large attacks in Baghdad and other areas far from the front lines.

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Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad contributed to this report.

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