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Civilians in Mosul Caught in Crossfire Between Islamic State and Iraqi Army

Snipers from both the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and the U.S.-backed Iraqi army are fatally shooting civilians who try to flee the besieged western side of the city of Mosul, reports the Independent, citing an eyewitness.

The 33-year-old Sunni witness who finds himself trapped in western Mosul with his family is identified only as Jasim. He revealed that in his neighborhood alone, dozens of civilians, including children, are killed on a daily basis.

Jasim told the Independent via a mobile phone, “I want to rescue my mother and take her to the eastern part, but it is dangerous. Three people were killed in our neighborhood trying to cross the [Tigris] river to the eastern side. They were shot dead by the snipers.”

The alleged eyewitness explained that ISIS has “snipers who cover the river bank.”

Meanwhile, at night the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces are apparently unable to discern between ally and foe. Some fighters and civilians occupy the same houses, noted Jasim.

He told the Independent:

The problem is that even at night things are not that easy. The Iraqi army, the federal police and counter-terror forces shoot anyone coming from the western side as there is curfew at night and they believe anyone coming from the western side must be a Daesh [ISIS] fighter.

“As a result, civilians are being killed by both Iraqi army mortars and [ISIS] snipers when they try to escape,” notes the Independent. “On several occasion in the past, the Iraqi security forces have announced that they have killed [ISIS] infiltrators seeking to cross the Tigris from the west and these may have been civilians trying to escape.”

In January, the U.S.-backed local Iraqi forces liberated the eastern side of Mosul, but ISIS has since managed to keep control of the western part.

Hoshyar Zebari, the former Iraqi Foreign and Finance Minister, recently said that ISIS is “sending reinforcements into Mosul, mostly from Central Asia,” where the jihadist group has established a presence, particularly in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

A U.S.-backed coalition of Iraqi government troops, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni tribesmen, and Iran-allied Shiite militias have been fighting to push ISIS out of western Mosul.

Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, is considered the last major ISIS stronghold in the country.

Besides the daily fear of death, residents of western Mosul are reportedly facing food and water shortages.

Some residents are selling the nourishment that is available at high prices, according to the witness.

Although the local forces have reportedly pushed ISIS out of eastern Mosul, fighting continues in some districts of eastern Mosul, said Jasim.

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