An Iraqi man who is fleeing the ongoing fighting in Western Mosul between the Iraqi Security Forces and ISIS militants says that he wants a return to freedom after years of fighting.
“I want to live together with great freedom. When will these wars end?” says the civilian. “I’ve lost my livestock and my car. I just have my health.”
Iraqi civilians are fleeing the western part of Mosul in their thousands in search of safety away from the front lines of clashes. According to the UN, up to 4,000 people are leaving their homes each day, and 28,000 have already been forced to flee since the operation to liberate western Mosul began on 19 February. The UN has previously stated that it anticipates 250,000 Iraqis to become displaced from the battle in the west of the city.
In recent military developments, Iraqi Security Forces are currently engaged in intense clashes in the Mansour neighbourhood in the south of Mosul’s western section, clearing ISIS-planted bombs and killing dozens of militants. The recently liberated al-Jawsaq and al-Tayaran neighbourhoods have also seen Iraqi Federal Police and the Rapid Reactionary Forces carrying out sweeping operations.
Iraqi forces have made swift progress in the campaign to defeat ISIS in the terrorist group’s last stronghold in Iraq. However, the Old City is likely to pose the greatest challenge due to its narrow streets and dense population. Forces will have to adapt their tactics to street fighting, while ensuring the protection of civilians.