Fearing Isis Retaliation, Iraqis Flee Recaptured Areas In Eastern Mosul

Fearing Isis Retaliation, Iraqis Flee Recaptured Areas In Eastern Mosul

 Hundreds of Iraqis fled the recently recaptured Muthanna district on Monday (January 9) crossing a damaged bridge on the Khosr River.

Although their area is now under the control of Iraqi forces, residents are escaping to safer areas fearing Islamic State (ISIS) retaliation.

Ghaith Ahmed said he left his home because of the constant stream of mortars fired at their homes by ISIS militants.

On Friday (January 6), elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces using night-vision equipment crossed the Khosr River, a tributary that runs perpendicular to the Tigris through eastern Mosul, via a makeshift earth bridge after ISIS had destroyed permanent ones.

Air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition sped that advance into Muthanna district.

The CTS are part of a 100,000-strong Iraqi force made up of the military, Kurdish fighters and Shia militias, backed by U.S.-led coalition air power.

The latest advances brought more of eastern Mosul under Iraqi forces' control just days after elite units reached the Tigris River, as the U.S.-backed offensive to drive ISIS from its last major stronghold in the country pressed ahead with renewed vigor.

The offensive against ISIS, which began in October, stalled last month but has regained momentum in the last two weeks.

More than 125,000 people have been displaced out of a population of roughly 1.5 million, the U.N. refugee agency said on Sunday (January 8). The numbers of those fleeing have increased by 50 percent over the last few days and is now about 2,300 a day, the agency also said.

The humanitarian situation was "dire", with food stockpiles dwindling and the price of staples spiraling, boreholes drying up or turning brackish from over-use and camps and emergency sites to the south and east reaching maximum capacity, the agency added.

Recapturing Mosul after more than two years of ISIS rule would probably spell the end of the Iraqi wing of the group's self-declared caliphate, which spans areas of Iraq and Syria.