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Iraqi Families Flee Mosul as Army Battles ISIS

Families are fleeing Mosul and surrounding areas as the Iraqi army battles to retake the city from ISIS.

Iraqi families displaced by the ongoing operation by Iraqi forces to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS gather in an area near Qayyarah on Oct. 24.

The UN refugee agency is preparing to receive 150,000 Iraqis fleeing fighting around Mosul within the next few days, its chief said. 

BULENT KILIC / AFP - Getty Images

Women and children displaced by the conflict gather near Qayyarah on Oct. 24.

The Mosul campaign, which aims to crush the Iraqi half of the caliphate declared by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, may be the biggest battle yet in the 13 years of turmoil triggered by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and could require a massive humanitarian relief operation.

Some 1.5 million residents remain in the city and worst-case forecasts see up to a million being uprooted, according to the United Nations. U.N. aid agencies said the fighting has so far forced about 6,000 to flee their homes.

BULENT KILIC / AFP - Getty Images
Bullet holes are visible in the window a truck driven by Iraqi soldiers as displaced families gather near Qayyarah on Oct. 24. BULENT KILIC / AFP - Getty Images
A displaced woman holds a child near Qayyarah on Oct. 24. BULENT KILIC / AFP - Getty Images

Iraqi forces flash the victory sign as they stand on an infantry fighting vehicle loaded on a truck driving through the Al-Shura area, south of Mosul, on Oct. 24.

Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul faced stiff resistance from the Islamic State group Monday, despite the U.S.-led coalition unleashing an unprecedented wave of air strikes to support the week-old offensive. Federal forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters were moving forward in several areas, AFP correspondents on various fronts said, but the jihadists were hitting back with shelling, sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps. 

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP - Getty Images
Displaced Iraqi families gather near Qayyarah on Oct. 24. BULENT KILIC / AFP - Getty Images
Smoke rises after a U.S. airstrike as the Iraqi army pushes into Topzawa village, near Mosul, on Oct. 24. AHMED JADALLAH / Reuters
Iraqi refugees who fled Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under the control of ISIS, arrive in the desert area of Rajam al-Saliba on the Iraq-Syria border on Oct. 22, 2016. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP - Getty Images
Refugees arrive at a camp in the town of Qayyarah, south of Mosul, on Oct. 22. BULENT KILIC / AFP - Getty Images
An Iraqi girl looks through a fence as she queues for food and hygiene kits at Debaga refugee camp on Oct. 21. Carl Court / Getty Images
One of the camps at the Debaka refugee camp, on the outskirts of Erbil, on Oct. 22. AMEL PAIN / EPA
A refugee girl rests in Deir al-Zor, near the Iraqi border, in Hasaka Governorate on Oct. 23. RODI SAID / Reuters
Iraqi forces distribute fruits to children in the village of al-Khuwayn, south of Mosul, after recapturing the village from ISIS on Oct. 23. AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP - Getty Images
A church that was damaged by ISIS in Bartella on Oct. 23. Carl Court / Getty Images
A refugee boy carries blankets following his arrival in the desert area of Rajam al-Saliba on the Iraq-Syria border south of al-Hol in Syria's Hassakeh province on Oct. 22. DELIL SOULEIMAN / AFP - Getty Images
An Iraqi displaced child, sick with fever, lies down as her relatives, who fled from ISIS held town of Hawija near Kirkuk, receive food at a school building in the Debaka refugee camp on Oct. 22. AMEL PAIN / EPA
Refugees buy food and water near the Iraqi border in Hasaka Governorate Oct. 23. RODI SAID / Reuters
Tents in Debaga refugee camp on Oct. 22. Carl Court / Getty Images