From beneath the ruins of a house in al-Tayaran neighbourhood in western Mosul, a cry for help was heard from under the rubble.
Nearby Iraqi soldiers rushed to the scene, looking for the source of the sound.
After digging for about an hour, the soldiers were able to extract a man, woman and three children from the basement of a house that had been shelled by ISIL.
All were in good shape, except for some minor injuries.
"It was God’s will that we stay alive," Ahmed Hamid, 36, told Diyaruna. "Thank God we had a basement to hide in. We owe our lives to these heroes."
Iraqi troops have soldiers that are well trained as rescuers and first responders, said Rapid Response Division media officer Lt. Col. Abdul Amir al-Mohammedawi.
"We prepare for any emergency," he told Diyaruna. "We advance with our military force and supporting effort, as there are military units providing medical treatment, first aid and evacuation of those who have been injured."
"We also rescue people trapped under the rubble after ISIL has shelled their houses with mortars or blown them up with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and car bombs," al-Mohammedawi said.
Rescuing trapped civilians
As the division advances through west Mosul, it has rescued dozens of families, especially in al-Tayaran and al-Jawsaq neighbourhoods, al-Mohammedawi said.
"We also have helped to safely evacuate hundreds of families from al-Nabi Sheet area to Mosul Airport, despite the enemy’s attempts to attack them with mortars and car bombs," he said.
The Iraqi army’s 9th Armoured Division, along with other forces, have evacuated 10,000 families from the Badoush area in north-western Mosul, said division deputy commander Brig. Gen. Walid Khalifa Majeed.
"We have saved the life of residents whose houses have been destroyed by indiscriminate, deliberate bombing by ISIL in several areas, such as al-Hameedat and Tal al-Rays," he told Diyaruna.
"We give immediate medical support to the wounded as soon as they are recovered, and quickly move families to a safe place so that they are not easy prey for the terrorists," he said.
Even so, there have been casualties following ISIL's attacks, he said, noting that a family of five, including three children, were killed when ISIL shelled their house near Badoush on March 18th.
At least 307 civilians were killed between February 17th and March 22nd in west Mosul, the UN Human Rights office said in a statement on Tuesday (March 28th).
Battle against ISIL continues
The rescue efforts being made by the Iraqi forces are "massive", Ninawa provincial council member Hassan Shubeib al-Sabawi told Diyaruna.
"When there is an attack or a shelling of a house, troops quickly move to rescue and aid families," he said. "Many civilians have survived after taking cover in the basements of their homes."
According to local sources, the lives of 30 people have been saved, whose houses were destroyed in attacks last week in the Nablus neighbourhood and Mosul al-Jadida, he said.
"However, sources also speak of an unknown number of casualties so far, some still buried under the rubble," al-Sabawi said.
"The battle is very tough," he said, adding that Iraqi forces "should spare no effort to protect the people, save them, and end the battle quickly".