Iraqi civilians trapped between IS and coalition bombing
Civilian residents in the Islamic state group [IS] held cities of Falluja and Ramadi are trapped inside the cities north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, as the military orders families in Ramadi to evacuate the city.
"Locals in the cities of Falluja and Ramadi have no way to escape as the fighting intensifies. They are trapped because they put off leaving the IS-controlled cities," tribal leader Hamid al-Halbousi told an al-Araby al-Jadeed Iraq correspondent.
|File Photo: IS overran Ramadi in mid-May 2014 [Getty]|
Halbousi said the government's decision to close all roads leading into Falluja was "ill-conceived" and did not take into consideration the 100,000 civilians still inside the city.
"Shutting the road to the north of the city has completely isolated Falluja from the outside world,"
"There will be an unprecedented humanitarian disinter once food prices begin to go up insanely, infant formula runs out and Falluja's only hospital is exhausted of medicine and medical supplies," the chief of the Halabsa tribe said.
Halbousi added that IS has put in place harsh corporal and financial punishments for locals caught trying to leave cities the militant group controls but that some civilians had gotten past IS checkpoints after paying people smugglers fee of around $5,000.
Iraq's military command told civilians on Monday in the IS-held Ramadi, west of Falluja, to leave the city, a sign that an operation may soon be underway to retake the provincial capital.
The statement, broadcasted on Iraqi state TV, said Ramadi families are requested to leave the city from its southern, Himaira area. No further instructions or details were given.
It is unclear if the long-awaited operation to recapture Ramadi is imminent. IS captured Ramadi in May, after government forces abandoned their posts. The provincial capital of Anbar province is located about 115 kilometres west of Baghdad.
People living in IS-controlled areas are stuck between IS on one side and the indiscriminate shelling on the other
- Mohammad al-Jubouri, human rights activist
Iraqis living in IS-controlled areas have found themselves stuck between a rock and hard place as IS has killed over 1,800 civilians in the past two months, while the US-led coalition's raid raids on populated city districts have killed many more.
The US-led alliance carried out seven airstrikes near Ramadi on Saturday, targeting IS fighters, key positions and weapons caches.
Thirty civilians were killed in western Falluja on Saturday when shells hit their homes, among the dead were women and children, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.
Member of the Iraqi Human Rights Commission, Mohammad al-Jubouri, said: "IS has killed many men. However the air raids and shelling by government forces, Shia militias and the international coalition have killed twice as many."
"People living in IS-controlled areas are stuck between IS on one side and the indiscriminate shelling on the other," Jubouri added.
Human rights activist Hussein al-Shawi agreed: "The hundreds of thousands of civilians in Mosul and Anbar provinces are being massacred."
Shawi said that there are one million civilians in Mosul province with 100,000 in Falluja and 50,000 in Ramadi.
"Wars around the world usually leave civilians unharmed because they take place far from civilian areas. In Iraq, we have the opposite because all the fighting factions use populated areas as cover and use locals as human shields," Shawi added.