By Ulf Laessing
MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi forces have pushed Islamic State out of the street where Yaqdhan Abdelnabi lives in Mosul, but the former sales manager is moving his five children to another part of the city because it is still dangerous.
Women hang laundry on balconies and men chat at the few shops that have reopened in the Zahra district of eastern Mosul since it was retaken more than a week ago by Iraqi forces.
But Islamic State still holds other parts of the northern city, carries out suicide bombings and fires rockets from positions nearby. With food and water in short supply, life remains far from normal in Zahra, even if Islamic State is on the back foot in Mosul after more than two years of brutal rule.
“The (Iraqi) army is advancing, but (Islamic State) rockets land every day in our district. It’s non-stop,” said Abdulnabi, who worked for a Turkish food firm before Islamic State made Mosul their biggest urban stronghold in Iraq.
“I decided to move my children to my brother’s house after a suicide bombing struck close to my house,” he said.
Abdulnabi has packed a bag with clothing for his children, aged between three and 10. His brother lives in another part of Zahra which Abdulnabi says is quieter.
Minutes after he spoke, a group of people chatting in front of their houses ducked when they heard a gun being fired, apparently by a sniper. No one was hurt though many people on the streets already have bandaged wounds.
Many houses are packed with 20 to 30 people because families are sheltering relatives or other people who have fled from other parts of Mosul. Some homes still fly the white flags they raised to signal surrender to the advancing Iraqi forces.
Black Humvees bring in reinforcements and pickup trucks head in the opposite direction, carrying elderly people or families who are leaving. One family goes through the district on foot, with a small girl carrying a white flag.
“We haven’t had water for one week, no electricity,” said Ahmed Youssef, a baker. “I am not going to open my bakery unless there is security … I have some flour left but it makes no sense to resume work now.”
Trucks deliver basic food items every day at a square next to a military headquarters. Soldiers fired in the air to keep order .
“There is not enough food, no support at all,” said 41-year old Haris Ibrahim who fled with his five-strong family and now lives with 22 other displaced in a small cubicle house. “We need more food.”
(Editing by Patrick Markey and Timothy Heritage)