Mosul Residents Flee Thirst, Hunger And Islamic State

Mosul Residents Flee Thirst, Hunger And Islamic State

Mosul families fled their homes on Sunday (March 26) to the northern part of the city as Iraqi forces battled with the Islamic State (ISIS) to recapture the densely populated parts of the western half of Mosul, the militant group's last stronghold in Iraq.

"[Fleeing] thirst, fear and everything," one woman said as she made her exodus through a dusty road.

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights said since the campaign against western Mosul began on February 19, unconfirmed reports have said nearly 700 civilians have been killed by government and coalition air strikes or ISIS action.

The militants have used car bombs, snipers and mortar fire to counter the offensive. They have also stationed themselves in homes belonging to Mosul residents, from which they fire at Iraqi troops, often drawing air or artillery strikes that have killed civilians.

Women, children and men huddled around Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) - a state-run umbrella including Shia militias - to receive rice and chicken after days of no food.

The U.S.-backed offensive to drive militants out of Mosul, now in its sixth month, has recaptured most of the city. The entire eastern side and around half of the west is under Iraqi control.