Battle for Mosul: As civilians flee, Islamic State jihadists occupy their homes

Iraqi forces have retaken all but a handful of areas around Mosul's Old City, but the jihadists are fighting in densely populated areas, and have used civilians as human shields at various points in the battle.

AFP June 04, 2017 23:17:11 IST
Battle for Mosul: As civilians flee, Islamic State jihadists occupy their homes

Mosul: After jihadists turned the roof of his house into a sniper position, Owayid Mohammed and his family fled west Mosul in an escape that made him feel "reborn".

Battle for Mosul As civilians flee Islamic State jihadists occupy their homes

File image of Mosul, Iraq. Reuters

"The Dawaesh took my house... and brought four snipers to the roof," said Mohammed, using a pejorative name for members of the Islamic State jihadist group which seized the city in 2014.

"We stayed near them for about a week and moved from house to house," the 75-year-old man said.

"When we saw that the army was getting close to us, we trusted in God and fled," said Mohammed walking with the aid of a crutch.

He and his family joined hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes since the massive operation to retake Mosul from Islamic State was launched in October 2016.

Iraqi forces have since retaken all but a handful of areas around Mosul's Old City, but the jihadists are fighting in densely populated areas, and have used civilians as human shields at various points in the battle.

The United Nations warned last week that up to 2,00,000 civilians may still be trapped in Islamic State-held areas facing shortages of food, water and medicine as well as deadly danger from the battle for the city.

Mohammed and his family were in some ways lucky they were not forced to stay in their house after Islamic State deployed the snipers — circumstances that led to one of the deadliest single incidents for civilians during the Mosul campaign.

In Mosul al-Jadida, another area on the city's western side, the United States carried out an air strike targeting two snipers on the roof of the building.

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