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Iraq Told Civilians to Stay in Mosul. Now They’re Paying With Their Lives.

Brig. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, another special forces commander, said he had known from the beginning that no one would rise up.

Iraqi officials had hoped that keeping civilians in their homes while counting on residents to rise up would also avert the type of destruction in Mosul that was seen in Ramadi, another Islamic State-held city, which was liberated at the beginning of the year but was reduced to rubble. Now, as military officials consider whether to try evacuation to allow a greater use of artillery and more airstrikes, they worry that Mosul, too, could look like Ramadi once the battle is finished.

Amid the chaos on Wednesday, as the bodies were flowing into the field clinic, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the top American military commander in Iraq, landed in a helicopter to meet with the Iraqi officers leading the battle. One, Brig. Gen. Sami al-Aridhi, said that at the emergency meeting, the Iraqis implored the Americans to do more to target Islamic State artillery positions and car bombs from the air.

“The Americans promised us today they would send more drones,” he said.

He also said the government should shift tactics and order civilians to leave their homes, even though in some neighborhoods where Iraqi forces have tried to evacuate families, the civilians have refused, saying they do not want to live in tent camps.

“We have tried so hard not to harm them,” he said.

At the field clinic in Mosul on Wednesday morning, trucks and Humvees arrived one after the other, carrying the wounded and dead. Medics said they needed more of everything — bandages, antibiotics, fluids for IV drips. “It gets worse every day,” said an Iraqi colonel who gave only his first name, Khalil. “There are lost legs, chest wounds, head wounds. Daesh has begun to target the people.”

Adding to the chaos, groups of civilians fleeing the fighting are constantly approaching the clinic, setting the soldiers scrambling to keep them away, rifles raised, out of fear of suicide bombers. On Wednesday, one man, insistent on reaching the soldiers, stopped in the distance and raised his gown to show that he was not strapped with explosives.

After a first stop at the field clinic, many of the wounded go to Erbil, the Kurdish capital, where trauma centers and hospitals are overwhelmed and running low on medicine and other supplies. There are also not enough doctors, and those working have not been paid for months because of a financial crisis brought on by low oil prices.

“It’s 24 hours a day,” said Dr. Hassan Mercalose, 29, who works at West Hospital in Erbil. The last time he was paid was in August, and that was only 30 percent of his salary. With fighting intensifying in Mosul, he said, “the situation is going to get worse. I know that.”

Source: NYT > World

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