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Published On: Thu, Jan 26th, 2017

Iraq: Mosul survivor Hala Jaber confirms a Islamic State finding a cell phone could mean death

Life for the family and for tens of thousands of others caught in the besieged city was difficult. But they managed to survive under the rule of the militants.

When the Iraqi military began their operation on 17 October 2016 to take the eastern part of the city, Khaled was optimistic that Farah and the family’s ordeal might be ending.

That hope was still there, until dawn of 6 January 2017, when three houses were struck by shelling that killed 18 men, women and children, among them members of Khaled and Farah’s family.

Khaled first heard of the deaths on social media. A relative in the besieged city confirmed the tragic loss.

In one moment Khaled had lost his sister, her husband and a young nephew. Somehow, his sister’s two other children miraculously survived.

With no access to cemeteries due to the constant barrage, Khaled’s father arranged for the bodies to be buried in the garden of his house.

Neighbors, uncles and Khaled’s sisters two surviving sons spent the cold winter morning feverishly removing the dead, including Khaled’s mother, father and sister from under the rubble with nothing but their bare hands.

Image/CIA

In the afternoon, they dug a large hole in the garden where they laid to rest those killed. They included the remains of 18 victims, including Khaled’s family: children piled atop the bodies of their mothers; husbands arranged at their sides.

As military operations intensified, things got progressively harder for Farah and others caught inside Mosul. When the fighting approached Farah’s neighborhood – and the daily bombardment escalated – she decided it was time to leave. She had seen enough death.

“Two and a half years under ISIL were bad enough, then came the military operations and things just got worse for all of us,” she said, explaining the added difficulties the family endured.

The Iraqi government, the UN and humanitarian agencies have expressed serious concern for those still trapped in the city under ISIL and, in particular, the estimated 750,000 civilians caught in western sector of Mosul.

The military is expecting a tougher battle for the west of the city as indications show ISIL digging in to defend their main bastion in Iraq.

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “As humanitarian operations extend farther into East Mosul, we are getting a clear picture of the intense suffering of civilians over the last two and a half years, which underscores our deep concern for those who remain trapped and in danger inside West Mosul.”

Many people have reportedly been killed while trying to escape. Dozens of others arrive each day at hospitals on the outskirts of the city.

Trenches around the city have been dug and mined, and snipers have been positioned on main cross routes to prevent people from fleeing. Houses and government buildings have been booby-trapped and streets mined with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosives.

Food supplies and medicines have become scarce. Water and power supplies are almost a thing of the past, as routes and bridges were cut off to prevent ISIL from replenishing militants.

Up until last week, Mosul was still receiving two hours of power a day.

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