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Rudaw

Mosul residents flee the city with dead bodies of loved ones

By Rudaw 18/3/2017

Civilians continue to suffer in the war to drive ISIS from Iraq. On Thursday, family members fled the city, bringing with them the bodies of at least 21 allegedly killed in an airstrike targeting ISIS in west Mosul earlier this week. 

“They were pulled from the rubble. Twenty-one bodies, women and children. Even a baby of just six months,” Ziad Khalaf told AFP, pulling a cart bearing the bodies of members of his family. 

“They were human shields for the jihadists.”

He and others tried to retrieve the bodies but came under fire from ISIS militants. They had to wait until the neighbourhood was retaken by Iraqi security forces before being able to dig through the rubble and find their loved ones. 

The UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, told reporters earlier this week that civilians are at risk whether they choose to flee the city or remain in their homes. Those who choose to stay face extreme risks from crossfire, snipers, and explosive hazards; while families who choose to leave are equally at risk: families get separated, ISIS targets them, and there is a risk of explosive hazards.

During the offensive to retake east Mosul, Grande estimated in January that 47 percent of all casualties were civilians. She said this week that in west Mosul, the reports they are receiving from families indicate that there is “much more destruction” in the city. 

Photos: Aris Messinis/AFP


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