Dozens of people have fled their homes in the Iraqi city of Mosul as security forces battle to retake it from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
In the latest push by Iraqi forces to seize the northern city from the armed group, families have escaped their houses for the first time in days.
“It’s been three days and this is the first time we have come out. The door was completely closed,” Hasna Yassin, resident of Al-Intisar neighborhood in Mosul, said.
There are thought to be one million people still living in Mosul.
Residents have been told to remain inside their houses until the Iraqi controls the whole city, which could take up to three months according to Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The says it has taken back more than 60 percent of the city since the offensive began in October. Iraqi special forces have been doing most of the fighting.
Iraqi resumed the Mosul operation in the eastern part of the city after a two-week lull last week.
A senior US commander in Baghdad is confident of the advance into the city.
“They have continually been progressive – become better and better,” US Brigadier General Rick Uribe said.
“I think the forces right now, the Iraqi security forces, as we sit here today on January 1st, 2017 are at their peak and I think they will continue to improve because of the lessons they are learning on a daily basis.”
The battle for Mosul is the biggest Iraqi operation since the 2003 US-led invasion.