The U.N.’s public health agency said Thursday it has trained 90 Iraqi medics in “mass casualty management,” with a special focus on chemical attacks, as part of its preparations for Iraq’s operation to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group.
The extremist group, which has ruled Iraq’s second largest city for more than two years, is believed to have crude chemical weapons capabilities, and Iraqi forces say they are prepared to encounter them on the battlefield.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that of the 700,000 people expected to flee Mosul, some 200,000 will require emergency health services, including more than 90,000 children needing vaccinations and 8,000 pregnant women.
The operation to retake Mosul began Oct. 17 and is expected to take weeks, if not months. The fighting has not yet reached the city itself, which is home to more than a million people.
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