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Suspected ISIS fighters attacked refugees ‘safe haven’ outside Mosul – RT reporter

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists are suspected of attacking a town just outside Mosul used as a safe haven by refugees and reporters. RT’s Murad Gazdiev visited the community to investigate.

The RT crew arrived in the city at 7am, and found Hamam al-Alil completely locked down, with heavily armed troops and roadblocks. The Iraqi military told them that journalists were banned from entering the city, but the crew drove around the city for hours until, eventually, they came in from the back roads from the side of Mosul.

Then, they started talking to locals, and found out about what happened during the night.

“Apparently, there was a massive firefight. Six ISIS fighters allegedly spent months and months hiding in a hole in the ground in Hamam al-Alil,” Gazdiev said.

The city of Hamam al-Alil is of strategic importance, “because there are thousands of refugees fleeing western Mosul head to this city, from where they are relocated to various refugee camps.”

“It has been very difficult to piece together what happened. The Iraqi soldiers that we've spoken to are being very tight-lipped about it, and the locals seem confused. They were told to stay indoors,” Murad Gazdiev explained.

The terrorists tried to escape on Friday night, and four of them were killed by Iraqi forces, while two others fled.

Four bodies were put on display in Hamam al-Alil in front of the mayor's office, so that everybody could see their bodies, Gazdiev said.

It remains unclear how they were able to get through all the security checkpoints if they arrived from Mosul. However, this could be explained another way – the terrorists may have come with the refugees and “hid among them and... somehow acquired weapons in Hamam al-Alil.”

Due to the fact that the crew was not allowed to enter Hamam al-Alil, Gazdiev's stand-up was recorded in the car, as he said, “to attract as little attention as possible.”

“After all, journalists are forbidden from being” in the city, Murad said.

The latest news comes amid a massive outpouring of civilians from western Mosul, with almost 100,000 Iraqis escaping the war-torn city in the past month, according to figures from the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM).