Iraqis struggle in muddy roads to flee Mosul as battles rage

Orient Net 2017-03-05 17:08:00

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Thousands of civilians reached in the early hours of Sunday (March 5) morning new areas in Mosul dodging gunfire and walking for hours along muddy and rainswept roads as battles intensify between US-backed Iraqi forces and ISIS.

Civilians have been fleeing southern districts of Mosul where Iraqi troops, Kurdish peshmerga militias and Iranian-trained Shi’ite paramilitary terrorists are waging an offensive to dislodge ISIS terrorists from the western half of the city, which has been under their control since 2014.

Baghdad forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19.

Defeating ISIS in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014, over parts of Iraq and Syria, although the group is expected to continue a campaign of insurgent attacks.

The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants, including many foreigners, are hunkered down in Mosul among the remaining civilian population, which aid agencies estimated to be around 750,000 people at the start of the latest phase of the battle.

The battle for Mosul has killed and wounded several thousand people since it started on Oct. 17, according to aid agencies.

Speaking from Erbil, east of Mosul, Bastien Vigneau, the emergency director for Mosul operations at the UN children’s agency UNICEF said on Saturday (March 4) that over 100,000 children are among the 191,000 people who have been displaced from the city since October.

Among them, UNICEF identified 874 children who were unaccompanied or separated. More than half have been reunited with parents, and the rest are being taken care of by extended family, the agency said.

Adapted from Reuters.