Besieged residents in Mosul eat cats, grass to survive

Iraqi people flee the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul in al-Samah neighborhood, Iraq December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Mosul ( Iraqi people have spoken of the tragic situation they endure at Western Mosul, which is still controlled by Islamic State, saying they resort to cats and grass as food to survive. Deaths due to starvation were reported among children and the elderly.

Around 300,000 besieged civilians live at IS-held regions in Mosul, where battles between the militants and Iraqi troops backed by the U.S.-led coalition are ongoing.

“The residents here began to eat cats, grass and tree leaves as hunger strikes the districts controlled by IS,” Sufian Ahmed, one of the residents at al-Najjar district, told the London-based The New Arab website in a phone call. “We had hopes that the Iraqi jets throw bread for us instead of distributing the flyers.”

“The flyers are gathered and burnt for warming. Grass and tree leaves are boiled to be eaten. Many people died of hunger. We don’t know what destiny awaits us; either to die due to starvation or by shelling or be shot to death by IS,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abu Jaber, another Iraqi who shares the house with Sufian, said “the bodies of victims attract the cats toward destroyed houses, so we can hunt them there before slaughtering to eat them. Women and children have the priority to eat without making them watch the slaughtering of cats.”

“We are now besieged between the Iraqi troops and international coalition from one side and the Islamic State from another side,” he said. “We don’t know when we are going to die but we try to stay alive for longer time.”

“My weight was 80 kilograms. Now I’m just a skeleton. Even the birds that we used to hunt escaped the shelling. I don’t think we have enough stock of cats,” abu Jaber added.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Ali, head of a human rights group called peace organization for human rights, said, “we received similar calls from civilians at IS-held districts. 42 civilians, most of whom are children and elder people, died of hunger.”

“This is insane. They discuss opening safe passageways for the stranded while the battles are ongoing,” he said, adding that government returned back the telecommunications service to these districts before cutting them once again as information on the disastrous human situation was leaked.

430,000 civilians were displaced due to ongoing battles between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Mosul since they broke out in October, the Iraqi government declared on Wednesday.

In a press conference on Thursday, Migration and Displacement Minister, Jassem al-Jaff, said that 260,000 people fled western Mosul alone since operations launched in February to retake that part of Iraq’s second largest city.

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