Hundreds of civilians fled through the desert Tuesday (February 28th) to escape fighting and privation in Mosul, joining thousands of others who left their homes as conditions worsen in the city's west.
"So far today (Tuesday), we have around 300 displaced people -- men and women and children," Brig. Gen. Salman Hashem of the Counter-Terrorism Service told AFP.
"There are more coming. They are stopped at a checkpoint when they arrive and separated. The men are searched and then checked against a database," Hashem said.
Those fleeing the city have faced dire conditions. "They are coming to us after days without food," he said.
Security forces reached the southernmost of Mosul's five damaged or destroyed bridges across the Tigris River on Monday, a step that could allow troops to extend a floating bridge between the city's east and west sides.
On Tuesday, they liberated five more areas, including Tal al Rumman, al-Ubur, al-Atshana, Khbeirat and al-Jawsaq neighbourhood, one day after recapturing al-Tayran neighbourhood from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), Ninawa operations commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Ameer Rashid Yarallah told Diyaruna.
At least 300 ISIL fighters were killed in the fighting, he said, and tens of vehicles, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive belts were seized.
Five ISIL tunnels were also destroyed in the vicinity of the Ghazlani military base, he said.
After entering al-Jawsaq neighbourhood Monday night, the Iraqi army liberated three Yazidi captives who were found in a house that ISIL militants had just fled, said Brig. Gen. Jamal Mohammed Abdullah, deputy commander of the west Mosul operations in the army.
"A nine-year-old and two women who were held hostage by ISIL for nearly three years were set free," Abdullah told Diyaruna.