The battle against Islamic State in Iraq continues in full force with airstrikes and ground operations by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition. But as ISIL loses ground in one area, it gains in another. While Iraq celebrated the liberation of Fallujah, thousands of civilians are fleeing the terrorist group in Makhmour.
CCTV’s Michal Bardavid reports.
Thousands of civilians flee Makhmour as ISIL advancesThe battle against Islamic State in Iraq continues in full force with airstrikes and ground operations by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition. But as ISIL loses ground in one area, it gains in another. While Iraq celebrated the liberation of Fallujah, thousands of civilians are fleeing the terrorist group in Makhmour. CCTV's Michal Bardavid reports.
Civilians fleeing Islamic State in Iraq’s Makhmour area have walked tirelessly for hours. They are thirsty, tired, exhausted after arriving to the safety of the Peshmerga front line.
In the last few days, more than 3,000 people have arrived, including a woman who witnessed beatings, executions, and terror while under ISIL control.
“When we started running they came after us, ISIL militants were shooting at us with guns from behind but we had decided we would rather die on the road with pride then in the hands of ISIL,” the woman, who did not give a name, said. She managed to escape with her husband and three children.
ISIL often tries to use fleeing refugees to it’s advantage, many terrorists attempt to sneak across front lines by hiding among civilians. Yet Peshmergas are aware of these methods and take extra security measures to prevent ISIL militants from entering their territory.
“We carry out ID checks here and if we suspect anyone of being an ISIL member we check the information with our security forces, police and intelligence who have data,” Sherzada Sur, Lieutenant Colonel of Peshmerga forces said. “After we make an investigation, if necessary they are transferred to courts where they will be sentenced.”
While ISIL has advanced in areas such as Douz Khurmatu where they have killed dozens of Iraqi security forces, they have been hit hard in Fallujah. Iraqi forces together with the U.S.-led coalition have been carrying out operations in the area for weeks.
It has been a difficult battle as thousands of civilians were trapped inside the city, and often used as human shields.
Fallujah has been a stronghold of ISIL since 2014, and its liberation is expected to have an impact on the overall fight against Islamic State
Now all eyes will be turned to Mosul, a key city still in the control of ISIL.
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi has vowed that it will be their next battleground.