MOSUL, Iraq, Jan 6, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 06th Jan, 2017 ) - The first stop for the thousands of civilians forced to flee their homes in Mosul is often inside their own city, sometimes in the homes of complete strangers. Mohammed fled the violence on the western side of the Iraqi city, which is traversed by the Tigris river, and found shelter in an abandoned house in Al-Intisar, a neighbourhood in the east. "I know nothing about this house," said Mohammed, a 62-year-old man.
"The owners left for Baghdad, they were displaced too. The neighbourhood's residents told me I could stay so I did." Mohammed explained that moving to one of the many displacement camps set up by the United Nations and other relief agencies around Mosul was not an option. "It's like prison, they don't let you out," he said. The tour of his new, temporary home is quickly done: three rooms, a rug hanging from one of the walls and a full tea service.
"There's a generator but no water," said Mohammed, who moved in with one of his two wives, a son and his daughter-in-law. The neighbourhood of Al-Intisar they now live in was retaken by Iraqi forces recently but is close to the front line, where the Islamic State group is resisting with suicide bombings and mortar and sniper fire. The area is still a war zone -- the crackling of gunfire, the thrum of helicopters overhead and the rumble of tanks moving down the streets can be heard throughout much of the day. Nearly three months into the offensive launched by Baghdad and its allies to retake the city, IS has lost around two thirds of the eastern side but fully controls the west bank.