ISIS has been shooting innocent civilians who are attempting to flee the Iraqi city of Falluja. The terror group has been randomly killing defectors who have been trying to escape the militant-held city, reported a European non-profit operating in Iraq.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reported that ISIS has been targeting civilians who are trying to escape the clutches of the terror group, reported CNN. The group has been aiming at those attempting to leave everything behind in a desperate bid to leave the city.
According to rough estimates, as many as 50,000 residents are currently trapped in the inner regions of Fallujah. However, as Iraqi security forces are steadily closing in, many are genuinely worried about being caught in the crossfire or worse, being used as human shields by the ISIS. Hence many are trying to sneak out the city by whichever means possible, but the ISIS, which possess multiple trucks and armored vehicles train their guns and rain bullets on the men, women and children, noted NRC Country Director in Iraq Nasr Muflahi.
“Our biggest fears are now tragically confirmed with civilians being directly targeted while trying to flee to safety. This is the worst that we feared would happen to innocent men, women and children who have had to leave everything behind in order to save their lives.”
Iraqi Major Ali Hanoon said militants killed seven civilians and seven defectors inside the IS-held city, west of Baghdad, as they attempted to escape on Sunday, reported Sky News. While the Major wouldn’t mention a specific number, he noted that ever since the Iraqi security forces have begun intensifying their operations to retake the city, the ISIS militants had killed “dozens” of unarmed civilians. Iraqi forces had stepped up their offensive since late May. They have begun targeting the key strongholds of the militants with entry-level ammunitions and are retaking small towns one at a time.
Why is the ISIS killing civilians? Major Hanoon noted that the presence of civilians in the city acts as a strong deterrent for Iraqi forces. The soldiers have to practice strong restraint while spraying bullets. However, devoid of residents, the soldiers can fire indiscriminately, knowing their bullets won’t kill any innocent people.
The city of Fallujah lies just 65 km (40 miles) from the capital, Baghdad. Needless to say, it is a very critical and strategically important region for both sides. Given the proximity of the region to the capital city of Iraq, it is quite understandable why there has been a persistent and concentrated push to retake this ISIS-controlled territory. ISIS had managed to capture the city of Fallujah way back in 2014. The terror group had immediately begun to impose its brutal regime based on the radical interpretation of the sharia law.
The situation in the city of Fallujah has been steadily deteriorating for quite some time, reported CBC News. Besides acute shortage of potable water, the people trapped there have run out of food. Many are forced to cook and eat their pets and have even resorted to eating food preparations made from grass, as constant starvation looms over their head. The situation is equally bad for the 3,000 families that have managed to escape the region. These civilians are being housed in displacement camps, which are running short of resources.
Besides the land route, which is fraught with the danger of being shot at, civilians have been trying to escape by crossing the Euphrates River. Many have fashioned makeshift rafts from wooden planks, kerosene barrels, and old refrigerators to make the journey across the river. However, the journey through the water is equally dangerous. According to the New Arab, about 18 people, including children and the elderly, have lost their lives.
[Photo by Marwan Ibrahim/Getty Images]