The battle for Mosul is said to be entering a critical phase as Iraqi special forces try to drive ISIL fighters out of key positions on the west bank of the Tigris river.
Both sides are waging a war of attrition in the northern Iraqi city, with civilians caught in the middle.
‘‘They’re on the move all the time”, says this member of an Iraqi rapid response unit. “But our forces and vehicles are spread out across the length of the river. On this side, there is Daesh, facing us. Some families are trying to flee using boats from this area here to reach the bank on our side but Islamic State have snipers that shoot at them and fire mortars at them. Here, our role is to engage Daesh in order to allow the safe passage of the families.’‘
Three months of intense, street-by-street fighting has left much of the population displaced.
UN figures show more than a million fled the city when the conflict erupted and that number has increased steadily.
Iraqi officials are struggling to relocate them within the region.
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