escape clutches of Mosul jihadists
Trapped for years inside
jihadist-ruled city, escaping residents say IS
fighters growing increasingly desperate as Iraqi
forces advance on their last bastions in Mosul.
Iraqi security forces help displaced people who
fled their homes during battle between Iraqi
forces, IS militants
MOSUL - Civilians rush down a hillside on
the outskirts of Mosul to waiting Iraqi
forces, tired but happy after finally being
able to flee the clutches of the Islamic
Trapped for years inside the jihadist-ruled
city, escaping residents say IS fighters are
growing increasingly desperate as Iraqi
forces advance on their last bastions in
Civilians are being forced from their homes,
they say, and rounded up by the retreating
"We were used as human shields," says
Abdulrazzaq Ahmed, a 25-year-old civil
servant, who managed to escape along with
hundreds of other civilians fleeing the
recently recaptured neighbourhood of
The residents descend the hill to buses and
police trucks that will take them to camps
in the desert near Mosul, joining tens of
thousands of others who have fled Iraq's
Families carry their meagre belongings in
plastic bags. Women in niqabs -- the face
veil imposed on them by the jihadists --
walk alongside men with shaggy beards and
elderly people carried on carts or pushed in
In the middle of the crowd a young man, a
dirty bandage wrapped around his forehead,
"He was wounded by a shell," his mother
shouts. "Give him bread," she begs an
officer. "We lived through some terrible
The wounded man is placed in a waiting van.
A young boy holding a black sheep at the end
of a rope also hopes to get on board.
- 'We were so hungry' -
"Where are we going to put this one?" a
joking police officer asks, before allowing
the boy and his sheep on board, followed by
a young girl, her face smudged with dirt,
carrying a doll.
Iraqi forces launched the offensive to
retake Mosul in October and after
recapturing its eastern side set their
sights on its smaller but more densely
populated west last month.
During the fighting in west Mosul -- which
has forced more than 50,000 people to flee
their homes -- the jihadists have lost
control of several neighbourhoods and key
Rayan Mohammed, a frail 18-year-old, says IS
fighters are scrambling in the face of the
"They ran away like chickens," he says.
Mohammed says he was once given 60 lashes
for missing prayers and thrown in prison for
"If they stopped you with a mobile, with
music..." he begins, leaving the sentence
unfinished. "I left my phone at home, I was
afraid to go out."
Another young man, 22-year-old Mohammed,
says conditions in the city were dire.
"There was nothing left to eat or drink,"
says Mohammed, who gave up his studies when
IS took control of Mosul in 2014, but now
hopes to return to university.
Ahmed, in his 40s, says he was held for four
months in a school in Al-Mansur after being
detained by IS fighters along with his wife
and nine children.
"Life was very difficult, we were so hungry,
all we had to eat was bread and tahini," he
At his side his oldest daughter and his
wife, who is carrying their 18-month-old
girl, have lifted their veils to show their
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