Humanitarian organizations are in a state of "continuous crisis" with thousands fleeing Iraq's second-biggest city of Mosul daily, as the government offensive, backed by a US-led coalition air force, reaches its decisive stage.
Iraqi forces have launched a new offensive against four Islamic State group districts in west Mosul on Sunday with house-to-house urban fighting taking place in the city.
Families escaping the battle for west Mosul have arrived in droves at sites for the displaced in the past week, the International Organization for Migration said.
That number may still rise sharply.
With the remaining Islamic State units retreating deeper into the historic heart of the city, street-by-street fighting is imminent.
The army launched an offensive to retake west Mosul on 19 February but bad weather has slowed the progress of Iraqi troops in recent days.
The fall of west Mosul would effectively mark the demise of IS's cross-border "caliphate", which its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced from a mosque in the city in 2014, but the threat posed by the jihadists would still be far from over.
In mid-February, Iraqi forces - backed by a US -led air coalition - began fresh operations aimed at purging Daesh terrorists from western Mosul.
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"Rapid Response forces are moving toward important governmental buildings such as the governorate building and the police directorate", Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammedawi, a member of the elite interior ministry unit, told AFP.
A man runs towards Iraqi special forces soldiers.
Rapid Response units captured have captured the Danadan district, which lies just south-east of the complex, while US -trained Counter-Terrorism Service units pushed through Tal al-Ruman and the Somood districts, in the south-west.
The militants are using suicide vehicle bombers, snipers and booby traps to counter the offensive waged by the 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iranian-trained Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups.
ISIS has used chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria at least 52 times according to a report published late previous year by IHS conflict monitor, a London-based research and intelligence gathering group.
Snipers had also tried to deter Iraqi forces as they approached from Mosul's south.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Friday five children and two women were receiving treatment for exposure to chemical agents.
Calling for an investigation, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Ms Lise Grande, said: "If the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed, this is a serious violation of global humanitarian law and a war crime, regardless of who the targets or the victims of the attacks are".