Feature: Iraqis recount pain and ordeal under IS-ruled Mosul

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-09 02:48:59|Editor: yan
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MOSUL, Iraq, May 8 (Xinhua) -- In a narrow alley at the south edge of western Mosul, a group of members of Iraqi Federal Police gathered to prepare a new offensive against the Islamic State(IS) fighters in the buildings only about 100 meters away to the north.

Shooting sound and artillery explosions could be heard from time to time in the nearby neighborhood.

Abu Abdulla, a 48-year-old carpenter, sat in his dim room by the alley, with a green wooden box in his hand. That was a military ammunition box, which he just took back from the police and planned to make some small furniture with the wood boards.

His daughter, 7-year-old Istapraq, with a screwdriver in her hand, was trying to pinch some screws from the box, seemingly unconcerned about the ear-piercing sounds of war outside her home.

"We are not terrified now, because the police will protect us. And our whole family are staying together," said Abdulla, adding "but it's a different story when Daesh (IS) fighters were here."

"Daesh took everything valuable in my house and they took my younger brother, who was a policeman," said Abdulla, noting "I haven't got any information about my brother for more than a year. No one knows his whereabouts."

Even with the loss of valuables and missing of a relative, Abdulla's family cannot leave this war-torn city. "My father is 70 years old, suffering from diabetes. One of his legs was amputated and his eyesight is deteriorating. His health conditions are so bad that we cannot move freely. We have no other choice but to stay," he said.

Life under the rule of the Islamic State is harsh for Abdulla's family. Food is a big problem, yet what disturbed them most is the threat of security.

"Each night we hear the footsteps downstairs in the street, we will tremble in the dark, fearing the worst might happen." Abdulla recalled the awful memories "with a policeman among us, all the family members might be treated as government supporters and be executed finally."

Like Abdulla and his family, there are many civilians that are still living in the war zone of western Mosul. According to the United Nations statistics, there are around 300,000 to 500,000 civilians in west Mosul after Iraqi army started the offensive in February.

The battle for Mosul has left the civilians in pain and suffering. Jan Kubis, the UN envoy to Iraq and the chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq(UNAMI), said civilians continue to pay a heavy price in the conflict.

The UNAMI said on May 1 that in April 153 civilians were killed and 123 others injured in the fierce battles between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in western Mosul.

"Daesh(IS) terrorists have detonated car bombs in residential neighborhoods in Mosul and attacked civilians desperately fleeing the fighting as the security forces liberate more territory from the terrorists." Kubis said.

Iraqi military officials said that IS fighters use civilians as human shields. Some militants have dug in between the civilians, often carrying out deadly counter-attacks to repel the government advancing forces.

The harsh situation has finally come to an end for Abdulla and his family when Iraqi Federal Police pushed in and liberated this neighborhood.

Abdulla said that members of the Federal Police come to visit him every day with food and water. They help him fix the broken water pump and give him warning for the upcoming bombardment.

"I have resumed my old job, the carpentry. There are no customers now, but Mosul is to be liberated soon. People will come back to their home and life will finally return to normal. My furniture might be useful at that time." Abdulla said.

"Our family will be right here, waiting for the return of my younger brother. He must be still alive and might come back home anytime in future." He added.