The battle for Mosul rages on as Iraqi soldiers continue their push into the ISIS held city, amid warnings of a "worst case scenario" putting a million residents at risk.
For the past month a coalition of Iraqi military forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have fought an intense battle to retake Iraq's second largest city, almost two years after it was lost to the terrorist group.
In the middle of the battle are 1.5 million civilians, up to a million of whom are under extreme risk of harm amidst the fighting, aid groups say.
"In a worst case scenario, as many as one million people could be at extreme risk from cross-fire, snipers, contamination with improvised explosive devices, forced expulsions and could be used as human shields," the groups, which include the International Office of Migration and The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.
The statement was issued to mark a month since the battle began.
"Civilian casualties, and the lack of capacity to treat these, are deeply worrying," the statement said.
Almost 59,000 people have been displaced, about 26,000 of them children, the agencies said, and more than 40,000 displaced people have found shelter in formal camps managed by the Iraqi Government, the United Nations and national and international NGOs.
There are an estimated 54,000 Iraqi military 40,000 Peshmerga fighters involved in the battle, against an estimated 5,000 ISIS fighters.
Human Rights Watch has reported militia groups detained and beat at least 22 men from two villages near Mosul and recruited at least 10 children in a camp for displaced people as fighters against ISIS.
Major-General Sami al-Aridi told The Associated Press his special forces were searching homes in areas retaken from ISIS, looking for fighters and vehicles rigged with explosives, mortar and sniper fire.
"The biggest hindrance to us is the civilians, whose presence is slowing us down," Maj. Gen. al-Aridi said.
"We are soldiers who are not trained to carry out humanitarian tasks."
Another Iraqi army commander told the U.S. News Agency four civilians were killed and another four wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded before it could reach troops it was targeting on Saturday.
ISIS captured Mosul following a frantic campaign in 2014 that saw the terror group make massive gains in Iraq.
Last week it emerged ISIS summarily killed 21 civilians in Mosul it accused of collaborating with U.S.-backed security forces.