Fleeing Mosul's Old City comes at a price

Horrific accounts of survival are emerging from civilians escaping the rubble of Mosul's Old City.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Iraqi forces carry an injured man on a blanket as they evacuate civilians from the Old City of Mosul on July 3, 2017 during an ongoing offensive to retake the city from Daesh.

Horrific accounts of survival are emerging from civilians escaping the rubble of Mosul's Old City.

Iraqi forces have been battling Daesh in the city for months but are hoping to declare victory soon.

Around 900 civilians have escaped from the Old City in the last couple of days, as fighting in the last part of Daesh-held territory continues.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston spent time with injured civilians who fled the Old City.

Iraqi forces slowed their advance on Tuesday through the last Daesh-controlled streets in Mosul where militants and civilians are densely packed together, a commander said.

The Iraqi military has pushed insurgents into a small area beside the Tigris River in Mosul, but the resistance has been fierce.

It was from the pulpit of Mosul's medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque that, three years ago, leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Forces retook the mosque on Thursday, prompting Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to declare an end to the group's "state of falsehood."

The number of Daesh militants fighting in Mosul  – by far the biggest city it has ever controlled – has dwindled from thousands at the start of the US-backed offensive more than eight months ago to a couple of hundred now, according to the Iraqi military.

"The presence of civilians has affected the troops' advance a lot. The directions from the commander-in-chief of the armed forces are to advance slowly to preserve civilians' lives and this is what we are doing," the officer said on state TV without being named.

"The area is small but the advance today is very good, relatively."

He said the progress had also been slowed by a high number of improvised explosives planted in streets and buildings.

A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the offensive, which Iraq's army and counter-terrorism service are also fighting in a multi-pronged attack.

TRTWorld, Reuters