The voice of Abdulkareem, 43, a former construction worker trapped inside the fast-shrinking Isis enclave in Mosul, trembles with fear as he describes the battle raging around him. He knows that it would be dangerous to try to escape, but it may be even more risky to stay where he is. He told The Independent in a phone interview: “I cannot speak more loudly because they [Isis] will shoot me if they catch me talking on the phone.”
Abdulkareem lives in the Dachat Barga neighbourhood near the al-Maydan district which is being heavily fought over as the Iraqi security forces pin Isis fighters, who may number only 300 combatants, in a small part of the Old City of Mosul with their backs to the Tigris River. “It is a small area, but it is like Stalingrad in that the buildings wrecked by bombs and shells provide good defensive positions,” says one observer, who wished to remain anonymous.