PHOTOS: Dehydration kills a family escaping IS

On Sunday, a family who tried to escape the Islamic State (IS) in the town of al-Shirqat, southeastern Mosul, died from thirst before reaching a Peshmerga front line.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, a family who tried to escape the Islamic State (IS) terror in the town of al-Shirqat, southeastern Mosul, died from dehydration before reaching a Peshmerga front line.

As the Iraqi security forces are preparing to liberate Mosul in northern Iraq, civilians continue to flee from the area and move to Peshmerga-controlled territories.

On Sunday, an Arab family walked for 15 hours, feeling from jihadists to reach the Peshmerga front line in Makhmour.

“I paid USD $500 to a smuggler in al-Shirqat to deliver us to areas close to Peshmerga front lines,” said the father.

He asked Kurdistan24 not to mention his name for the safety of his two brothers that remain under IS control.

[The rescued man during an interview with Kurdistan24, June 26, 2016. (Photo: Kurdistan24)]

He stated that IS’ financial sources have weakened lately, and they unofficially accept bribes from civilians to allow them to leave the area.

“The smuggler said the journey would take seven hours to reach Peshmerga front lines, but we walked for 15 hours,” the man told Kurdistan24.

He mentioned that during the first three hours of walking, his family ran out of water.

“I went to bring water for my family, but when I returned both my kids and wife had died thirsty,” the man said, wiping tears.

A Peshmerga Commander on the Makhmour front line, Ziryan Sheikh Wasani, told Kurdistan24 that Kurdish forces helped the man rescue the bodies of his kids, but were unable to find the mother’s body during the night.

[The following photos are the children that died from thirst while escaping from IS, June 26, 2016. (Photo: Kurdistan24)]

“We also heard about the crimes of Iraqi Shia militia Hashd al-Shaabi when they liberated Fallujah. For fear of [IS] and Shia militia crimes, we decided to flee to Peshmerga front lines,” the grieving man said.

Hashd al-Shaabi — one of the largest Shia militias in Iraq — was created by a top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, after the collapse of the Iraqi army in June 2014.

Human rights organizations have reported that the militia violates civilians’ rights and commits war crimes.

The man noted that there were different nationalities among IS militants, including Pakistani, Afghani and Chinese citizens.

“IS is very weak now, their militants are running away from the fight,” he explained.

Since the start of the offensives around Mosul in the last few months, more than 5,000 civilians have escaped IS and have sought asylum when arriving at Peshmerga front lines.

 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa
(Hoshmand Sadiq contributed to this report)