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Rudaw

Iraq

84-year-old Mosul woman survives under rubble for a week

By 12/6/2017
-
By Yousif Musa



ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - After seven days of entrapment under the rubble of a house destroyed by coalition warplanes in west Mosul, an elderly woman, whose family had held her funeral, was miraculously found alive.




Niama Mohammed, 84, had been caught along with another 34 people by ISIS as they tried to escape. They were used as human shield in a house .The house was one day bombed when a group of the militants had fought against the advancing Iraqi troops on the rooftop. The house was bombed by the coalition warplanes, a witness has told Rudaw.  Of the 35, only Naima survived both the bombing and hunger and thirst for a week. 

Akram Ibrahim, a Kurdish soldier serving within the Iraqi army told the story of footages he had filmed when rescuing the exhausted elderly. He later sent them to Rudaw Media Network. 

“After our communication severed with our family in Najar neighborhood in west Mosul, we were informed that 16 members of our family were killed in clashes between the Iraqi army and ISIS militants,” Ibrahim recounted.

Ibrahim recalled that the 35 including his family members had been bombed at the house of a famous man in Mosul named Hamid blacksmith on May 21. 

“When we got to the spot, we saw the house was completely destroyed, a nasty smell was coming out of it. I went inside and passed all the rubble through a hole. When I got inside I found [34] corpses. Only Naima was alive,” he said when he first visited the site a week after, adding later he gave her a sip of water to quench her thirst.

“She was able to make very little movements as she had not eaten and drunk for seven days. When I grabbed her out of the rubble, I gave her some food and water. Then life returned to her.”

He explained all the victims were civilians. They had all tried to flee ISIS, but ended up trapped in the crossfire.

When ISIS realized they had tried to flee, the militants rounded them up at Hamid blacksmith’s house using them as human shields, he recalled. 

“ISIS militants shut the doors and windows on them and they had gone to the rooftop of the house fighting the Iraqi army. But they were bombed with five missiles by warplanes from the US-led coalition, causing this heartbreaking incident.” 

The Kurdish Iraqi army soldier added Naima's family had held a funeral believing she was dead, but when he returned the elderly, they jubilantly expressed their happiness welcoming her with tears and hugs.  

The battle for Mosul which has been ongoing for eight months now is in its last days as the group only retains control of three neighborhoods overall in Mosul, including the Old Mosul district, Shifa and Bab al-Sinjar.

There are, however, many reports of civilians being killed as they try to flee. The UN reported more than 140 civilians have been killed as they tried to escape the fighting in the past few weeks. 

Coalition spokesperson told reporters during a teleconference on Thursday that ISIS continue to kill "at an alarming rate" 

"The quickest way that we see stopping the human suffering that has happened within Mosul is by defeating ISIS as quickly as we possibly can," he said. "We will continue to be very deliberate with our strikes."

The coalition estimates that fewer than 1,000 militants remain in western Mosul.
 
"We will factor in all the tactics that we know that ISIS uses.  But we will continue to support our Iraqi security forces with ISR [intelligence, survelleince and reconaissance], with our strikes, with our advisers and we're not going to let up on ISIS, but we are always going to be mindful," he added. "Our goal is always to have zero causalities, unlike our enemy that we face today."

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