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U.N. expresses concern for 750,000 civilians remaining in western Mosul

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United Nations expressed “deep concern” on Tuesday about 750,000 civilians living in western Mosul, ahead of a U.S.-backed offensive to dislodge Islamic State from this area.

“The reports from inside western Mosul are distressing,” Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said in a statement. “The prices of basic food and supplies are soaring ... many families without income are eating only once a day. Others are being forced to burn furniture to stay warm.”

Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, is divided into two halves by the Tigris river that runs through its center.

Iraqi officials announced a takeover of the eastern side on Monday, after 100 days of fighting against the hardline militants who captured it in 2014.

Mosul had a pre-war population of about two million.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli