The Latest: Czechs send medics to Iraq for IS battle

The Latest on Iraq's Mosul offensive (all times local):

4 p.m.

The Czech Republic is deploying medical personnel to Iraq as part of international efforts to combat the Islamic State group.

The Czech Defense Ministry says a surgical field team of 17 left Prague early Monday. The team is heading to a U.S. Navy base located some 70 kilometers (44 miles) south of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and the extremists' last urban bastion in the country.

The medics will treat Iraqi and coalition soldiers taking part in the offensive to retake the city, which began in October. Iraqi troops are battling IS militants in several eastern districts.

Earlier this year, the Czech Republic sent 31 instructors to work with Iraq's armed forces, and Prague says it will send more in 2017 if needed.


11:30 a.m.

The U.N. refugee agency has distributed aid to dozens of Iraqi families uprooted from their homes in and around the city of Mosul.

UNHCR aid workers were handing out kerosene heaters, jerry cans, big sheets and hygiene kits to about 30 families on Monday, with people lining up to get the aid.

The families are among the nearly 5,500 people living in tents in a camp east of the northern Iraqi city where the battle to retake the city from the Islamic State group is underway.

So far, nearly 70,000 civilians have fled the massive, government-run military operation to retake Mosul. The operation started on October 17.

Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, is the last major IS urban bastion in the country. Iraqi troops have advanced cautiously to avoid civilian casualties.