Civilian casualties mount as Iraqi forces advance in Mosul

2017-01-16 14:07
Khalida Ahmed from Mosul is moved by nurses and family members before her leg wound can be inspected by a doctor at a hospital in nearby Irbil. (AP)

Khalida Ahmed from Mosul is moved by nurses and family members before her leg wound can be inspected by a doctor at a hospital in nearby Irbil. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Irbil - The mortar attack that left Um Yousef blind in one eye and killed two of her children came on the same day that Iraqi forces retook her neighbourhood in eastern Mosul from the Islamic State group.

"We were supposed to be liberated that day," she said from her hospital bed in the nearby city of Irbil. She asked to only be identified by a nickname to protect her family members still living inside Mosul.

Doctors at West Irbil Emergency Hospital say cases like Um Yousef's are on the rise as Iraqi forces continue to make gains against IS in their effort to take control of Mosul.

The blast of the attack that wounded Um Yousef ripped open her daughter's stomach, killing her instantly. Her son Yousef was hit in the head with shrapnel and he slowly bled out as they waited for hours for help. As Um Yousef was evacuated by the Iraqi military, her husband stayed behind in Mosul to bury the two children.

"I called him by phone, but he just cries, saying nothing," she said. Her youngest daughter, just over a year old who lost three of her toes to the blast, played in her lap.

Hospitals 'running out of everything'

When the operation to retake Mosul was launched in October more than a million people were estimated to still be living inside the city. While Iraqi forces largely evacuated civilians from cities like Ramadi and Fallujah that were retaken from IS this year, in Mosul they told people to stay put.

Since Iraqi forces pushed into Mosul's city limits in November, the fight has seen relatively high numbers of civilian casualties. In the first week of January the United Nations said 683 people were injured in the city, and at least 817 were wounded during the last week of December.

"You would expect in a conflict like this that the number of civilian casualties would be around 15%, a high of 20%. What we're seeing in Mosul is that nearly 50% of all casualties are in fact civilians," Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, told reporters at a briefing last week.

"It's clear that this is because of direct targeting by combatants," she said, explaining that IS fighters are targeting civilians as they try to flee militant-held parts of the city.

Aid groups opened two new hospitals closer to Mosul this month in an effort to see more civilians faster, but West Irbil Emergency Hospital still receives dozens of injured civilians from Mosul every day and is still operating above capacity, said the hospital's administrator, Dr. Lawand Meran.

"We are running out of everything, clean gauze, hospital gowns, even simple saline solution," said Hazhen Mama, a surgeon.

Mama says his work is often complicated by the fact that civilians without immediately life-threatening injuries must wait for days for a security clearance to travel out of Mosul and into Irbil to see a doctor. "When they arrive here they almost all already have infections," he said.

'I wasn't resisting them, I'm innocent'

The slow pace of the Mosul fight has also contributed to the high number of killed and injured civilians. As Iraqi forces slowly push IS out of the city, neighbourhoods remain frontlines for longer and it's more difficult for severely wounded civilians to be evacuated.

Iraqi leaders initially pledged Mosul would be retaken before January, but the conflict now appears poised to last months longer.

After 35-year-old Khalida Ahmed was shot by an IS sniper outside her home in eastern Mosul she had to wait for three days for help to arrive.

"I was standing at my front gate and I didn't feel anything, but I suddenly fell," she said. A man ran over to help her but was also shot and died shortly after, Ahmed said, and began to cry as she told the story. "He was my neighbour's son," she said.

Another neighbour helped her dress her wound to stop the bleeding.

After Iraqi forces retook her neighborhood over the weekend, a Humvee moved her to a field hospital where she was put in an ambulance and brought to Irbil. Now she says she's waiting for surgery to have her hip replaced.

"I don't know why (IS) shot me," she said, "I didn't have a mobile phone to inform on them, I wasn't resisting them, I'm innocent."

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?

 
 

Paws

How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.