Journalist Captures A Day In The Life Of Iraqi Soldiers Fighting In ISIS

"As family was catching its breath, a ripple of panic as troops spotted 5 cars speeding toward us."

Iraqi soldiers are on the verge of liberating Mosul, a major breakthrough in the war against ISIS that would take back the militant group's last remaining stronghold in Iraq.

During their war overseas, many Iraqi soldiers have been shadowed by New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi, a foreign correspondent with experience reporting in the Middle East. On Tuesday, Callimachi sent out a fascinating tweetstorm as she followed Iraqi soldiers pushing into western Mosul.

In it, Callimachi describes coming to a ridge where she and Iraqi troops are overlooking an ISIS village. Then, they saw a group of civilians hiking out of the village.

"Iraqis are watching through binoculars," she tweeted. "They say they have a white flag with them, as instructed by army fliers dropped over area."

After confirming that the group was made up of civilians, Callimachi and the Iraqi soldiers caught up to them. The group was a family of three women (one who was pregnant), two men, several children and a dog. Soldiers ran the families' identities to see if they were potential ISIS combatants while helping the grandmother, who was lagging behind, catch up. 

Realizing the pregnant woman wasn't feeling well, one of the team medics gave her an IV.

Then, the group noticed a fleet of cars speeding towards them. Callimachi said a "ripple of panic" hit the group and they began firing warning shots. But the grandmother and civilians they had just helped started screaming that the cars were their family members. 

After seeing about 30 civilians escape from the village, Callimachi continued to tweet out a series of pictures showing some "normal" parts of the day: her soldiers eating lunch together, then lounging and watching television. 

Her tweets are a window into the lives of the real men and women fighting the battle on the ground against ISIS. 

So far, Iraqi troops like the ones Callimachi featured in her tweetstorm have already retaken the eastern side of Mosul, which they accomplished in January. But the west has proven more difficult. ISIS has had a stronghold on Mosul since 2014, and in October, Iraqi forces launched an offensive alongside counterterrorism forces, federal police, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, according to CNN. 

An estimated 800,000 civilians live in Western Mosul, according to the United Nations. 

Hopefully, journalists like Callimachi will get to witness those civilians being freed. 

For related content, check out the video below:

Cover image via Shutterstock / serkan senturk.

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