Residents Flee The Fighting In Mosul's Eastern Districts
Iraqi forces have captured all of eastern Mosul, dislodging Islamic State (ISIS) militants from their last stronghold east of Tigris river, the defense ministry said on Monday (January 23).
Hundreds of civilians, who have spent days stuck in the middle of the fighting, fled their homes in the districts of Hay al-Arabi and Rashidiya in northeastern Mosul, as the Iraqi forces performed mopping up operations in the areas.
Many residents timed their escape just as the Iraqi forces entered their neighborhood.
One man shared his relief by thanking God as he fled on foot while carrying a large bag, but decried the situation as "tragic".
Residents said that they preferred to remain outside their districts while the Iraqi forces carried out the process of clearing the areas of bombs and unexploded munitions.
One woman said she has been under ISIS mortar attacks for 15 days, but now feels safe.
Of those who stayed behind in Hay al-Arabi was an elderly retired university professor and his wife, who said ISIS fighters gave them three hours to leave their house and positioned themselves on their rooftop. They had to survive for days in the basement of a house nearby with five other families.
Mosul is Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq.
"The armed forces succeeded in liberating the left bank of the city of Mosul completely, after inflicting heavy losses in lives and equipment to the enemy," the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The liberation of east Mosul comes 100 days after the launch of the U.S.-backed campaign to retake what used to be Iraq's second biggest city from the jihadist group, who captured the city in 2014.