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Iraqis Stream Out of Mosul as Battle Against ISIS Intensifies

Thousands of Iraqis are fleeing the shrinking ISIS stronghold in the west of Mosul.

Displaced Iraqis flee Mosul as Iraqi forces battle ISIS militants to recapture the west of the city on Feb. 28, 2017.

More than a week into the offensive on the militants' last urban bastion in Iraq, thousands of inhabitants have slipped out of the city, trekking through stony desert. Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19.

Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

A woman displaced from Mosul holds a baby as she arrive at a special forces base on Feb 27.

More than 31,000 civilians have been forced from their homes in western Mosul in the latest phase of the battle. The total number displaced since the offensive for Mosul started in October exceeds 191,000, according to the United Nations.

 

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

An Iraqi girl flees her home as Iraqi forces battle with ISIS militants in western Mosul on March 1. 

Defeating ISIS in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, from Mosul's grand old Nuri mosque.

 

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

A displaced Iraqi man talks to Iraqi special forces officers at their base on Feb. 27.

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

Displaced Iraqis flee their homes in the Mamoun district in western Mosul on March 1. 

The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants, including many who traveled from Western countries, are hunkered down in Mosul among the remaining civilian population. 

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

Displaced Iraqi women rest in the desert as they wait to be transported on Feb. 27. 

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

A boy injured in a mortar attack walks to an ambulance after being treated by medics in a field clinic on March 2.

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

Displaced Iraqis carry their belongings through the desert on March 1. 

Alaa Al-Marjani / Reuters

A young woman gathers with other displaced Iraqis on Feb. 28. 

Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

A displaced Iraqi boy cries as he flees Mosul on Feb. 28. 

Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

A displaced Iraqi carries his baby on March 1. 

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

Displaced Iraqis wait to be transported on March 2. 

The Iraqi military is taking women and children to camps and screening men to make sure they are not ISIS fighters. 

Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

A young Iraqi carries a white flag as people flee Mosul on March 1. 

Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images