At the start of the invasion of Mosul, US and Iraqi forces were very clear they didn’t want civilians to try to flee the city. Now, while commanders insist they’re desperate to get the civilians out of the last ISIS-held areas, the troops on the ground are increasingly abusive toward anyone trying to flee.
In the scorching summer sun, 115 degrees Fahrenheit, wounded civilians, starving people, the elderly and sick, all make their way out of the city toward screening centers, where many are summarily detained as “ISIS suspects,” and gun-toting Iraqi soldiers refuse to let the civilians stop for a break, accusing them of pretending to be tired, and suspecting every one of them of having been in league with ISIS.
Those unlucky enough to be stuck in the last ISIS-held areas are necessarily suspected of being sympathetic for them by virtue of not having fled before, despite the enormous danger of doing so, and despite many of these people being realistically too frail to flee now, were it not for Iraqi troops sticking guns in their faces.
This has long been a concern, that the Shi’ite dominated government’s Shi’ite-dominated military would not exactly be benevolent liberators to a massive Sunni city that has been part of the ISIS caliphate for years. For those unlucky enough to be detained, the reality is that many are unlikely to ever be seen again, officially or otherwise.