VOA: Thousands Flee Mosul Daily as IS Battle Intensifies21 March 2017 | 01:45 | FOCUS News Agency
Bombs, airstrikes and helicopter attacks rain down in crowded city neighborhoods while Islamic State militants fire at the families running away.
“It was a storm of mortar and gunfire," says Mariam Hassan, a grandmother of 17 at a camp east of Mosul.
“You could not even go out the front door. We hid under the stairs while the militants and the Iraqi forces fired at each other.”
And as the pace of the battle with Islamic State militants accelerates, so too does the crisis for Mosul families. More than a quarter million people have fled their homes since operations began to retake the city began in October, and the most densely populated areas under IS control are quickly becoming battle zones.
Aid workers say a million people might be displaced from Mosul by the time the war is through.
In recent weeks, the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants has intensified, and soldiers say the battle that began last week — for Mosul's Old City — could be the deadliest yet.
And as crowds arrive in the rapidly growing number of camps surrounding Mosul, security forces are cautious. They say IS militants are attempting to sneak out of the city, posing as refugees.
“We have sources reporting IS militants in cities, towns and villages,” says Iraqi soldier Ali Hussein, while guarding a camp as families arrive. “We also have photographs and know if someone is giving us a fake ID.”
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