The ongoing Iraqi invasion of Western Mosul continues to rage on with no end in sight, and even though Iraqi troops have had virtually no territorial gains in the last three weeks, there is still more or less constant heavy fighting in the densely populated Old City.
While most of the reports out of Mosul center on the military consequences of the ongoing struggle to try to capture the city, the problem is much greater for the civilians in the Old City, where supplies are running short, airstrikes and shelling are constant, and the streets aren’t safe.
Naturally, many are trying to flee, but a lot of them are finding themselves targeted by ISIS forces, who have killed a number of would-be refugees, band in many cases have hung their bodies from utility poles in an attempt to intimidate anyone else thinking of fleeing.
With many Iraqi forces having little to no training in urban combat, ISIS appears to believe that having more civilians on hand for the fighting improves their chances of ultimately repelling the invasion. Whether or not that ends up true remains to be seen, but in the meantime, Iraq’s decision to advise civilians against fleeing at the start of the Mosul invasion is leaving those who listened in a very dangerous situation indeed.