Civilians Flee Mosul To Escape Fighting And Islamic State
Mosul residents continued to flee the city on Saturday (April 8) filling already overcrowded humanitarian camps in Iraqi-controlled areas.
Iraqi non-governmental organisation NCSON said it has been receiving up to 9,000 people a day and distributing them among five of its camps in the area.
Most of the fleeing civilians come from liberated districts, but some people from neighborhoods still under the militants' control are increasingly attempting to escape and reach a camp.
Iraqi troops are meeting fierce resistance as Islamic State (ISIS) militants retreat into the Old City, where street fighting is expected in the narrow alleyways and around the mosque where Islamic State declared its caliphate nearly three years ago.
Witnesses said that ISIS militants have killed dozens of civilians attempting to flee Mosul in recent days, hanging several dead bodies from electricity poles as Iraqi forces fight to retake the city.
A man who spoke to Reuters via telephone said he had found the mutilated body of a relative strung up from an electricity pole in the Tenek district along with three other young men caught trying to flee by the militants.
Iraqi forces are trying to advance through the narrow, maze-like streets towards the symbolic al-Nuri mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014.
But progress is much slower than in the early phases of the campaign, during which government forces took nearly three quarters of the city within five months.
The front has hardly moved in past two weeks as Humvees or tanks are of no use in the old city but improved weather should allow ground forces to resume their advance towards the al-Nuri Mosque, Iraqi army said.