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UN Chief Arrives In Iraq To Review 'Dire' Humanitarian Situation

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres traveled to Iraq on March 30 to review what he called “the dire humanitarian situation” there, as Iraqi forces continue their battle to retake the northern city of Mosul from the extremist group Islamic State (IS).

"Protection of civilians must be the absolute priority," Guterres said on Twitter on March 30.

In Baghdad, Guterres met parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi and Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He was also due to hold talks with Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi before heading north to visit displaced persons camps.

In October, government forces launched a major offensive backed by U.S.-led coalition air strikes to recapture Mosul, the main IS stronghold in the country.

The forces have retaken the eastern part of the city, and the battle in the more densely populated west has been intensifying.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been caught in the cross fire or fled their homes to escape the fighting.

With reporting by AFP and AP