IRAQ POLITICS: Mosul Fighting: Hundreds Flee, Others Return to Liberated Areas

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By Politicoscope April 24, 2017 00:00

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“We are besieged in the Resala area. There are stray bullets from other areas where there is fighting; three children have died,” said Mohamed Sobhi.

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IRAQ POLITICS: Mosul Fighting: Hundreds Flee, Others Return to Liberated Areas

Heavy two-way traffic of carts carrying children, clothes, and the elderly crowded the main Baghdad-Mosul road on Sunday as hundreds of Iraqis fled heavy fighting or made their way back to areas liberated from Islamic State.

Families paid no heed to the sound of heavy mortar, artillery and machine gun fire raging in the background as U.S.-trained Iraqi forces battled Islamic State some two km.(about a mile) away.

Some had walked miles to a government checkpoint where the men were placed in army trucks and sent for security screening to ensure no militant sleeper cells get out of the city. Women and children were put on busses and sent to camps housing hundreds of thousands, some displaced since the offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold began in October.

“We left because of darkness, hunger, and death. There are bullets and air strikes. We were injured, our children were injured,” said Younnes Ahmed, who was fleeing al-Thaura district with his family, their clothes all piled on a cart. There was a deep bullet wound on his hand.

A group of young men further inside the city sat on the street as soldiers gave them back identification cards they had taken to conduct background checks before letting them go.

Most houses were reduced to rubble, either because of air strikes or Islamic State bombs. Cars were hollowed out.

“Islamic State blew up my house with TNT to shield against air strikes,” said Hossam Saleh who now lives in rubble because he has nowhere to escape to.

Others were walking back into the city, eager to reclaim their homes after their neighborhoods had been retaken from Islamic State by U.S.-backed security forces.

“We left because of the air strikes but have now returned. But we want the government to restore services like electricity and water and to allow us to drive instead of using carts,” said Mosaab Mohamed who was walking back into Mosul with his family.

Iraqi forces have taken much of Mosul from the militants who overran the city in June 2014. The military now controls the eastern districts and are making advances in the west.

Islamic State fighters, holding out in the Old City, are surrounded in the northwest and are using booby traps, sniper and mortar fire to defend themselves.

WATER
Those who have returned say the government has been slow to restore services even to western districts that had been retaken a while ago.

“We are besieged in the Resala area. There are stray bullets from other areas where there is fighting; three children have died,” said Mohamed Sobhi.

“Water and aid cannot reach us. I call on the government to redistribute the people in areas like ours into other safer areas in Mosul.”

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still trapped in western Mosul, where Iraqi forces are making slow progress against Islamic State in what is a labyrinth of narrow streets.

As of April 20, some 503,000 people have been displaced from Mosul, of whom 91,000 have returned, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. The U.N. migration agency, the IOM, puts the displaced figure at 334,518 people as of April 23.

Still, there were signs of a slow return to commerce on Sunday, with one man setting up a cigarette stand and a family selling candy bars and water on the Mosul-Baghdad road, and residents were eager to rebuild.

“We do not want anything from the government, we just want to be allowed to help ourselves. If we can have letters allowing us to go other places we will get our own water, and transport it back,” said Omar Khaled as he carried his infant son back into the city.

– Reuters


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Politicoscope
By Politicoscope April 24, 2017 00:00

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Since You’re Here, We Would Like to ask You for Help

There are more readers worldwide reading the Politicoscope daily news content than ever before. Unlike many other news media organisations that charge their readers subscription fees for the same daily news content and features we offer you for free, we do not charge all our readers to pay any fee. We depend on online advertising to generate the revenues to fund all these great news content and exclusive features provided to you for free. Currently, advertising revenues are quickly falling which is affecting our ability to offer you free online news content.
If everyone who reads our news content, likes it and helps to support it, we can have future guarantee to offer you with the best daily news content and other amazing features, all for free.
"I visit Politicoscope everyday to read my daily news in world politics. I'm glad it's all for free. On my part, I'm happy to donate monthly so as to continue enjoying these free content because it's actually a small amount from me compared to paid subscriptions by other news organisations. I want to help Politicoscope grow more so that I and other readers can continue to have access to free and exclusive daily online news." - Denise H., from LA, USA.
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