As Mosul battle rages, trapped residents face terror and hunger
Iraqis say militants gun down civilians escaping fighting in old Mosul, while thousands trapped there are used as human shields.
HAMMAM AL-ALIL, Iraq – After his nephew was shot trying to flee the old city of Mosul, Abu Taha was trapped. Under the rule of armed extremists, just to be seen with a packed rucksack was enough to get him killed.
Instead, Abu Taha decided to hide in his basement with his nine children and wait for the fighting to end. Finally, last week, as Iraqi government forces battled their way into his neighbourhood, they were able to make their escape.
A day later and the 53-year-old year old was sitting in the reception centre at Hammam al-Alil camp, built by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, south of Mosul, his eyes brimming with tears of relief.
“I cannot describe how happy I am,” he said. “Here everything is really good compared to what we saw in old Mosul. If I start describing the tragedies we’ve lived through, I won’t be able to finish the story today.”