As thousands of civilians are fleeing Western Mosul, U.S. and Iraqi security forces are scouring the crowds in an effort to round Islamic State (IS) members trying to sneak out of the country.
The security forces are looking for non-combatant IS members, and those unknown because they didn’t hold public positions, who may be mixing in with the civilian refugees in a last-ditch effort to flee the city of Mosul.
An Iraqi intelligence officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told a Reuter’s reporter that this co-mingling of IS members and civilians is definitely occurring, in part, because the only records security forces have to go by are databases of known IS members or local informants.
The Iraqi officer said:
“We have a mechanism. We have names and sources but, even so, we don’t know all of them. But there are people who cooperate; most of them are cooperative. You can tell because [fleeing IS members] are afraid. Those who are not Daesh are also afraid but it’s different from the fear of those who are with Daesh.”
The Iraqi military estimates there could be around 6,000 IS militants still inside Mosul, and that is after the Iraqi army commanders claim they killed at least 3,300 others.
Related News: ISIS Members Discovered Embedded Among Refugees
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “Intensified fighting in western Mosul has resulted in a dramatic surge in civilian population displacement with 12,700 people fleeing the battle zone over the past two days alone.”
Iraqi brigadier, Gen. Salman Hashem told the AFP when speaking only about one checkpoint: “So far today [Tuesday], we have around 300 displaced people – men and women and children.”
Some 16,500 people have been displaced during these advances, and only 8,800 of them have thus far been distributed among camps and emergency sites, according to OCHA.
Many of the refugees are forced to sleep in the desert during their escape from the besieged city and arrive at emergency sites “exhausted and dehydrated.”
General Hashem said, “They’re coming to us after days without food.”
One man who fled Mosul and was interviewed by RT said, “We were hungry all the time. … Our families and children were starving, as well. We could not get out because of the airstrikes and the mortar attacks.”
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