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Around 600,000 children Trapped inside Mosul where they are being maimed in Fighting and used as Human Shields, says NGO Save The Children

Up to 500,000 people could flee Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, as the liberation battle continues, according to the Iraqi government

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Children getting trained by ISIS, Yahoo

Mosul (Iraq), Nov 17, 2016: Around 600,000 children are trapped inside the beleaguered Iraqi city of Mosul where they are being maimed in the fighting and used as human shields, Save the Children said on Thursday.

“It’s horrific that the only option these families and children have right now is to wave a white rag and pray they won’t get caught in the crossfire,” said Save the Children in Iraq’s deputy director Aram Shakaram.

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Children are paying a heavy price one month into the offensive launched by Iraqi and Kurdish forces to dislodge the Islamic State from its stronghold in Iraq, the charity said.

Up to a dozen children a day are being maimed as the offensive pushes further into the city, front-line medics and hospital doctors have told the charity. They are also being used as human shields, families have said.

More must be done to ensure the safety of civilians, Shakaram said.

“As this conflict pushes deeper into the city and becomes increasingly brutal, all parties must ensure civilians can flee safely and access humanitarian aid,” he said.

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“Safe escape routes must be the priority, not an afterthought.”

One family in an area of Mosul still under IS control told Save the Children it had recently been forced into a local school with 600 other people to be used as human shields, the charity said.

The family was released after six hours when IS fighters decided to use relatives of police officers and Iraqi army soldiers instead, they said.

Even if they make it to safety, many children have been seriously injured in the fighting or are showing signs of intense psychological distress, Save the Children warned.

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So far nearly 60,000 people have fled Mosul and its surrounds, including tens of thousands of children. Many more families are expected to try to escape and make their way to refugee camps as the offensive continues, the charity warned.

Up to 500,000 people could flee Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, as the liberation battle continues, according to the Iraqi government.

Save the Children has deployed a child protection team to provide emergency psychological first aid to children escaping the violence, and has set up safe spaces for children to learn and play, as well as literacy and numeracy classes.

“Many children have been through two years of IS and were then forced to flee through a war zone, and some told us they have seen people shot and hanged. Imagine what effect that would have on a child,” said Shakaram.

IS overran Mosul in June 2014 and declared it the capital of its Islamic ‘caliphate’ stretching across swathes of territory it seized in Iraq and Syria during a lightening offensive. (IANS)

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US Shares List of 20 Terrorist Groups Operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan with Pakistani Authorities

Top on the list is the Haqqani Network which, the US claims, has safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan.

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According to media reports, US has shared list of terror groups operating in Pakistan with authorities in Islamabad. Wikimedia

Washington, November 2, 2017 : The White House retains a list of 20 terrorist groups that it claims are operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan and is believed to have shared this list with Islamabad, the media reported on Thursday.

However, the list was not given to Pakistani authorities by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he visited Islamabad last week, diplomatic sources told Dawn news.

The White House list includes three types of militant groups: those who launch attacks into Afghanistan, those who attack targets inside Pakistan and those who are focused on Kashmir.

Top on the list is the Haqqani Network which, the US claims, has safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and uses them to launch attacks into Afghanistan.

Pakistan strongly rejects the charge, saying that there were no such safe havens inside the country.

The US also identified Lashkar-e-Taiba as one of the largest and most active terrorist organisations in South Asia.

The other militant groups in the list include Harakatul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jundullah, Lashkar-i-Jhanghvi and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. (IANS)

 

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Indians Missing in Mosul: V.K. Singh in Iraq to Co-ordinate Search Opertion

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V.K Singh will co-ordinate search operation for 39 Indian
V.K Singh will co-ordinate search operation for 39 Indians who went Missing in Mosul. IANS

New Delhi, October 27: After the government sought DNA samples from the next of kin of the 39 Indians Missing in Mosul, Iraq three years ago, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh is again visiting the country to seek an update.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveeh Kumar said on Friday that Singh’s visit “is to talk to people”.

“He has met a range of people in Iraq. And also to get an update on the 39 missing Indians in Iraq,” Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.

He said that on Thursday Singh was in Mosul city where the Indians went missing.

Last week, the families of the 39 Indians were asked to provide their DNA samples but no reason was provided, the kin said.

It was in June 2014 that the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, went missing in Mosul town when it was overrun by the Islamic State. Their families continue to hope the men are alive but also fear the worst.

Singh had visited Iraq in July too in this connection.(IANS)

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Displaced Villagers Return to Old Mosul Only to Find Destruction, Danger and Dead Bodies; Returnees Claim ‘Even Soldiers Stay Indoors After Dark’

The wreckage from a few of the destroyed homes has been cleared away as a handful villagers visit their homes in Old Mosul, which has been completely destroyed following a battle against the ISIS

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Old Mosul
Abd Elaam is one of the only people living in the Old Mosul in Iraq, where the destruction has been compared to World War II Dresden, Aug. 27, 2017.
  • Old Mosul has been completely shattered in the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants
  • About 900,000 people have been displaced by the battle for Mosul, and many neighborhoods have been completely destroyed by war
  • Areas around the village are slowly being re-populated, but many places are entirely without services like trash collection, electricity, and running water

Mosul, September 5, 2017 : “All you can hear at night is the sound of broken doors flapping in the wind,” says Abd Elaam, a 50-year-old furniture maker. “Even soldiers stay indoors after dark.”

Elaam is currently one of the very few civilians living in Old Mosul, an ancient neighborhood shattered by the battle to recapture the city from Islamic State militants. Like many families that survived IS rule, he says, his resources are completely exhausted by the war and he has nowhere else to go.

Other families trickle in by day, looking to repair their broken homes or recover the bodies of their dead loved ones. But even during daylight hours, the neighborhood is dangerous, riddled with bombs and an unknown number of militants hiding out in the vast network of tunnels under the tightly-packed buildings and piles of rubble. The level of destruction has been compared to World War II Dresden.

 

Old Mosul
About 900,000 people have been displaced by the battle for Mosul, and many neighborhoods like Mosul’s Old City have been completely destroyed by the war, July 9, 2017. (H. Murdock/VOA)

“A IS militant came out of one those houses two weeks ago,” Elaam says, gesturing towards another dusty, broken street. “He blew himself up near two families. They were all injured and the bomber was cut in half.”

The militant’s body, like other fallen IS fighters in Old Mosul, was shoved under the rubble to reduce the smell of rot in the 45 degree-plus weather. When Iraq declared victory over IS in early July, the bodies of dead militants lay scattered in buildings and on the streets of nearly every block. Authorities searched through giant piles of concrete, once homes, for the remains of civilian families. But, they said, the only government department responsible for the IS bodies was garbage collection.

 

Old Mosul
Bodies of IS fighters lie in the rubble of Old Mosul on nearly every block, while the bodies of families killed in airstrikes have to be dug out from under the demolished buildings in Mosul, Iraq, July 9, 2017. (H. Murdock/VOA)

Old Mosul is far from re-establishing city services like trash pickup. There is no running water, electricity or businesses open. Yet other families are following Elaam’s lead, and plan to return to their homes as soon as possible.

“In a few days I will move back and bring my family,” says Ghanem Younis, 72, resting on a beige plastic chair in a sliver of shade. “If they provide electricity and water, everyone would come back.”

Younger men and children squat around Ghanem, recalling the isolation of the final months of the battle that began late last year. “We couldn’t go more than 50 meters from our front doors,” says Sufian, a 27-year-old unemployed construction worker. “We spent our time sitting right here with Uncle Ghanem.”

 

Old Mosul
Residents of Old Mosul say homes left standing after months of heavy fighting are often ransacked as soldiers search for bombs and IS fighters hiding in tunnels under the city. (VOA)

But it is not sentiment driving some families home despite the dangers, adds Elaam, as more neighbors join the conversation.

“People cannot stay with friends and relatives forever,” he says. Camps for those displaced are also crowded. “No one has anywhere else to go,” he adds.

Airstrike Damage

A few blocks away, outside the checkpoints that cut off the Old City, the Zanjelli neighborhood is slowly being repopulated.

Old Mosul
Areas around Old Mosul are slowly being re-populated, but many places are entirely without electricity, running water and other city services, like trash collection. (VOA)

 

Construction workers build a market to replace one destroyed in airstrikes, while the owners of what was once a shoe store paint the shelves, hoping to re-open in the coming weeks. The wreckage from a few of the destroyed homes has been cleared away, and the bodies of many of the dead are now buried in graveyards.

In less than five minutes of conversation, at least three people tell us about family members, including toddlers, killed in airstrikes in the last months of battle.

“There was an IS sniper firing from next to my house and the airstrike hit us,” says Youseff Hussain, 35. “Fifteen members of my family were killed.”

 

Old Mosul
Iraqi search parties looking for survivors and the remains of dead civilians in Old Mosul. (VOA)

Rebuilding the neighborhood, adds Hussain, is made doubly frustrating by the fact that it was Iraq’s allies, including the United States, who destroyed many of their homes as they battled IS from the air.

Many locals say the sacrifice of property and lives may have been necessary to prevent the city, then under siege, from total starvation. But after bearing the brunt of the war with IS, largely considered a global threat, residents say they thought the international community or the government would help them rebuild.

The only aid families here get right now, Zanjelli residents say, is Iraqi military rations, as soldiers share their food.

“There is nothing they can do to pay us back for what we have lost,” says Hussain. “But shouldn’t we at least get refunded for our property?” (VOA)