Iraqi Forces Rescue Hundreds Of Civilians From Battle In Mosul's Old City
Hundreds of relieved civilians were brought out of Mosul's Old City on Friday (June 23).
Women and children got out of army humvees helped by Iraqi soldiers, while the ill and wounded were taken to a nearby field hospital.
Bananas, biscuits, and water were handed out as they made their way to safety.
"The situation was very difficult. Shelling and mortar attacks. We were waiting to die at any moment. I barely escaped death. I was buried under rubble. The army treated us very well. May God bless them. They saved us," one rescued civilian said.
The fighting in the Old City is becoming the deadliest battle in the months-long offensive to capture Mosul, ISIS de facto capital in Iraq.
More than 100,000 civilians, of whom half are children, are trapped in its old fragile houses with little food, water, medicine, no electricity and limited access to clinics.
Militants destroyed the Grand al-Nuri Mosque on Wednesday (June 21) evening along with its famous minaret, affectionately called al-Hadba, or "the hunchback" by Iraqis.
The al-Nuri Mosque, where the landmark al-Hadba minaret has towered over Mosul for more than 800 years, was once significant to the extremists group, as its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the establishment of ISIS on June 10, 2014.
The ISIS militants have been surrounded and withdrawn from the nearby areas, however, no evidence was found to prove fighting was any less fearsome.
Moving under heavy gunfire, members of Iraq's federal police moved through passages dug between houses firing weapons and using hand grenades, as loud bursts of gunfire echoed across the Old City's maze of alleyways and narrow streets.