US offers humanitarian aid as Iraq prepares Mosul offensive

The United States said on Wednesday it would give Iraq $181 million in humanitarian aid, anticipating a wave of displaced people when Iraqi forces launch a drive to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State. The advance on Mosul, the biggest city held by the militant group also known as ISIL, could begin as soon as next month.

On a visit to discuss planning for the offensive with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other officials, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the money would be used to pre-position emergency food and relief supplies.

The United Nations expects up to 1 million people could flee their homes in Mosul, the group’s de facto Iraqi capital. Critics say preparations for the humanitarian and political fallout have not kept pace with military gains.

The additional aid brings U.S. humanitarian assistance to more than $1 billion since 2014, when a U.S.-led coalition started bombing Islamic State in Iraq and neighboring Syria as well as providing training and advice to Iraq’s security forces.

[Reuters]

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