With the operation to liberate Mosul from ISIS under way, the fate of more than a million civilians in the city hangs in the balance. The fight is expected to last weeks, if not months, and if the battles to wrest Falluja and Ramadi from the militant group’s grip are indicators, Mosul will be a messy melee. In northern Iraq, the main road to Mosul is dotted with villages deserted in expectation of the battle. But for residents in Mosul, the path out of the city is shadowed by potential death from snipers, landmines, hunger and thirst. Meantime their city is in the clutches of an organization known to use civilians as shields — and it is a battlefield. The Iraqi Joint Operations Command issued a statement Monday reiterating their call for all residents of Nineveh province, where Mosul is located, to protect themselves by “maintaining distance from all Daesh [ISIS] positions … because these are military targets that will be destroyed.” Two Mosul residents told CNN there was aerial bombardment as well as artillery shelling of the city overnight, which intensified in the early hours of Monday morning. One said there had been calls from some mosques for people to “resist the infidels” and another said he saw ISIS fighters setting up improvised explosive devices and booby trapping vehicles as they were moving westward in the city.
Also, local clergy are asking for prayers.