Aid Group: Over 1 Million in Mosul Face 'Grave Danger'
On Wednesday, as poor weather bogged down forces advancing on the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, an aid agency warned that civilians there are in great danger as the battle for the city intensifies.
"We are now bracing ourselves for the worst," said the Norwegian Refugee Council's Wolfgang Gressmann. "The lives of 1.2 million civilians are in grave danger, and the future of all of Iraq is now in the balance."
The group said thousands of civilians have already fled the city, and many have already been killed by snipers and explosives. Those still in the city are in need of food, water and medical supplies, and those shortages will intensify as the fighting makes it more difficult for supplies and other humanitarian aid to get through.
Iraqi special forces reached the outskirts of the city Tuesday, two weeks after the offensive to retake Iraq's second largest city began, and more than two years after Mosul was captured by the Islamic State group.
An Iraqi general said troops captured a television station Tuesday before a sandstorm blew in and ended combat operations for the day.
On Wednesday, troops were holding their positions on the city's eastern border as high humidity and clouds limited visibility for drones and other aircraft.
Iraqi Brig. General Haider Fadhil says no advances are planned for Wednesday due to the weather, the Associated Press reported.
Report: No One at Controls When MH370 Crashed
An analysis of satellite data suggests no one was flying Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 when it plunged into the Indian Ocean in March 2014.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released the report Wednesday as experts gathered in Sydney to assess possible future searches for the plane, which vanished with 239 people aboard.
Satellite communications from the aircraft are consistent with the aircraft being in a "high and increasing rate of descent" before it disappeared, the report said. The Australian investigators believe the plane likely flew on autopilot for a time before running out of fuel and crashing into the ocean. The flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it went missing.
While a few pieces from the plane washed up on shores around the Indian Ocean in the two and a half years since it disappeared, the crash site of the Boeing 777 has not been located.
One of those pieces – a wing flap found on a shore in Tanzania – seemed to confirm the theory that no one was at the controls of the plane in its final moments.
Investigators say the flap does not appear to have been deployed when it broke off the plane's wing. Had a pilot been trying to bring the plane in for a controlled ditching, the flaps would typically have been extended.
Crews continue to scour a 120,000-square kilometer search area, however, that effort is expected to be completed in early 2017. Unless there is new evidence indicating a specific location for the crash, officials say they will end the hunt for MH370.