VIDEO: Hundreds of Iraqi Civilians Escape from ISIS-Controlled Villages near Bashiqa

Tue Nov 1, 2016 11:15:52

Hundreds of Iraqis left their homes in the village of Abu Jarbou’a near the town of Bashiqa on Monday (October 31) amid an offensive by security forces to clear Mosul of Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) militants.

Iraqi troops and Kurdish fighters have cleared dozens of villages as they press towards the city of Mosul for an offensive against the Islamic State’s last main stronghold in the country.

The momentum has encouraged Iraqis to take a risk and leave their homes, despite warnings from the hardline ISIS militant group that anyone who attempts to flee their self-proclaimed caliphate will be shot dead.

A peshmerga fighter, Barzan Sadiq, said many people were received by the forces near the berm.

"We received a large number of displaced people, more than 150 families. They came from the village of Abu Jarbou'a and other villages, Khor Sibat and others. People are still pouring in until now. We gave them water and food as they arrived."

The town of Bashiqa is a key strategic point on the approach to Mosul and taking towns like it are vital to driving Islamic State (ISIS / Daesh / ISIL) from the city.

Displaced families including young children and the elderly were seen walking in groups and were met by security forces who escorted them to safety.

One woman, Um Momin, said Islamic State have reinforced themselves in the village.

"Daesh are still in the village, 5, 6, 7 of them, they treat people very badly. They would hit people and lash them. They are still there, they have wired themselves with explosives and remained (in the village). There was no food, nothing and the road between the village and Mosul is cut off. People have no food, nothing," she said.

The displaced groups were later piled into trucks to be transported to the nearby refugee camps set up by authorities.

The United Nations has warned that Islamic State could try to take thousands of people as hostages and human shields during the Mosul offensive.

According to the army, about 90 Islamic State-held villages and towns around Mosul have been retaken so far in the campaign.

Some 1.5 million residents remain in the city and worst-case forecasts see up to a million being uprooted, according to the United Nations.

U.N. aid agencies said the fighting has so far forced about 7,400 to flee their homes.

S/SH 11

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