Mosul Neighborhoods in Tatters as Iraqi Army Battles Forward

MOSUL � Structures along the road to eastern Mosul are flattened and abandoned by Islamic State militants and everyone else. In parts of the city held by Iraqi forces, electrical wires are cut and bombed-out cars are scattered on the roads.

With the near constant sound of fighting, the city residents who remain say that besides the danger of being wounded or killed, their lives are now so primitive, they feel they are living like cave men.

And as Iraqi forces slowly push farther into Mosul, soldiers say this battle is unlike most they have fought against Islamic State, because of the large number of civilians in danger of being caught in the crossfire.

"This is not a village or a small city that some battalions can storm in and liberate it at one time," Captain Raad Qasim of the Iraqi Army's Najaf Battalion said on a rooftop a few blocks from militant strongholds, with the sounds of IS mosques' call to prayer and gunfire ringing through the air.

"There are civilians here and we have to get out of our cars and fight in the streets," he explained. "We have to check the people, and all the houses."

Soldiers fight from rooftops here, while heavily armed IS militants resist in a slow and lethal retreat. IS bodies often lie where they fall.

As the fight continues, families say they have no electricity, little food and are quickly running out of water. City services were maintained by IS militants, but are cut when Iraqi forces arrive in a neighborhood.

"On the day the army freed this neighborhood, militants cut the main water pipe as revenge on the people," said Nathir Bashir, a Mosul resident. Earlier that day, a mortar hit his neighbor's house. "There is no water now and what we saved in the tanks is enough for 10 days at most, and there is no electricity."

If water doesn't start flowing soon, he says, he will join the nearly 74,000 people that have fled their homes since the Mosul offensive began in mid-October.

On the outskirts of the city, dozens of wounded civilians arrive daily for treatment at an emergency health center, before being transported to a hospital. Medics say as many as 60 casualties arrive each day.

Iraqi officials say recapturing Mosul could take months.

Source: Voice of America