What life is like for Isis’s 400,000 ‘human shields’ in west Mosul
Endgames: inside Iraq In an exclusive dispatch on the climax of the battle for Mosul, Patrick Cockburn speaks to one of 400,000 desperate civilians for whom the besieged city has become like an underground prison
Isolated in their houses and short of food and water, people besieged in the Isis-held Old City of Mosul say it is like being held in an underground prison with little idea of the ebb and flow of the battle being fought around them.
Iraqi government forces have advanced up to the periphery of the Old City, a mediaeval warren of narrow alleys and close-packed housing, but have not penetrated far into it. Whole units are prevented from advancing by two or three Isis snipers who shift their positions from house to house using holes cut through the walls so they are invisible to aerial reconnaissance. Isis has draped tarpaulins over alleys for the same reason.
Omar, a 39-year-old resident of the Old City, told The Independent that the last lights were going out in houses on his street because they had no fuel left for the neighbourhood generator, even if they could get to it.