An Iraqi woman carries a girl as she walks along a pontoon bridge over the Tigris river on the outskirts of Hammam al-Alil

IRAQ OPENS NEW TIGRIS BRIDGE ESCAPE ROUTE FOR PEOPLE FLEEING MOSUL

An Iraqi woman carries a girl as she walks along a pontoon bridge over the Tigris river on the outskirts of Hammam al-Alil

(Reuters) Iraqi’s army has built a new pontoon bridge over the Tigris river south of Mosul, after flooding had blocked all crossing points, opening an escape route for families fleeing fighting between government forces and ISIS.

On Friday, the army dismantled makeshift bridges linking the two parts of Mosul due to heavy rain, forcing residents leaving Iraq’s second-largest city to use small boats.

The city’s permanent bridges have been largely destroyed during a six-month military campaign to seize back Mosul from the Sunni Muslim Islamists, which overran it in 2014.

Long queues formed at the new bridge on Tuesday with families crossing in public buses, trucks and taxis.

Aid shipments also resumed to the Hammam al-Alil camp, southwest of Mosul, the main arrival point for people fleeing the fighting.

Deliveries from Erbil, located some 80 km (50 miles) east in peaceful Iraqi Kurdistan, where aid agencies are based, had stopped due to the flooding.

“Everything is back to normal,” said a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR.

Some 20,000 people have escaped from Mosul in the past four days, fewer than before due to the lack of transport, the UNHCR said in a report. Almost 330,000 people have fled Mosul since Iraq started an operation to expel ISIS in October.

 

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