Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Thousands of Families Pour Out of Mosul as Fighting Intensifies | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55373720

Displaced Iraqi people react at Hammam al-Alil camp, as Iraqi forces battle with ISIS militants in Mosul, Iraq March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily

Hammam al-Alil camp, Iraq- Thousands more people are fleeing Mosul every day since Iraqi troops began their push into the last ISIS-held areas of the city last week, with food and water running out and the fighting
killing increasing numbers of civilians, Reuters reported.

More than 22,000 people have fled Mosul since the US-backed forces opened a new front in the northwest of the city on May 4 to try to finally dislodge the militants, the United Nations said on Wednesday, citing Iraqi government figures.

In the past two days alone, more than 11,000 people have passed through a screening site at the Hammam al-Alil camp south of Mosul.

ISIS militants are shooting people who try to escape, although some men have been allowed to go in exchange for taking militants’ families with them, said 40-year-old Umm Abdul Rahman, who fled the Musherfa district on Tuesday night.

One man waiting to be checked by security at Hammam al Alil had streaks of blood on his clothes from carrying a woman hit by an ISIS sniper.

They join an exodus from Mosul of more than 600,000 people in the seven months since Iraqi forces began their offensive there. Roughly 400,000 of those are from the western side of the city which is bisected by the River Tigris.

The militants are now besieged in the northwestern corner, which includes the historic Old City Centre, the medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque, and its landmark leaning minaret where their black flag has been flying since June 2014.

About ten families, some forced out of other areas of Mosul as Iraqi forces advanced, were now crammed into every house in the northwest, Abdul Rahman said.

“There is no water, no food. The bombardment is continuous,” she said, and the militants were setting civilian cars and trucks on fire to create smokescreens.

People are surviving on ground wheat boiled in water, 31-year-old Qatra al-Nada Abdullah said, because ISIS jihadists were keeping any food or water that is left for themselves.

“Even wheat is scarce,” she told Reuters

ISIS militants are forcing people from their homes to use them as fighting positions, 62-year-old Umm Mohammed said.

She and her family had burned everything, even their own shoes, to cook over after fuel ran out.

“We saw fear and hunger and death. I am an old woman and I have never seen anything like this.”

The militants seized Mosul in a shock offensive across northern and western Iraq in 2014 but have lost much of that territory to resurgent government forces in the past year.

The campaign to recapture the city, Iraq’s second largest, began
last October.

Defeat in Mosul, the militants’ last urban stronghold in the country, would still leave ISIS in control of swathes of Syria and Iraqi territory near the Syrian border.