Under the fire of Isis

Western Mosul – It is about 7 in the morning when from the window we notice a dark smoke rising. Everyone is asleep on the floor after a night of fighting. Lieutenant Hassan Kazhim Faraj keeps his ear to the radio unaware. “What’s this smoke?” we ask the officer who turns to the spotters on the rooftops. “Daesh (Islamic State A/N) has set fire to the house opposite us. Maybe to avoid being identified by the drones” they reply. A moment later complete mayhem breaks out: hand grenades, incessant gun shots and Rpgs. The Caliph’s followers attack our small Fort Apache, a federal police frontline outpost just steps away from the old city. Everyone jumps to their feet and grabs their weapons, putting on their boots, bullet proof vests and helmets. Major Abd Sajid Raed, commander of the handful of men of the 5th battalion orders the distribution of hand grenades and positioning of mortars. Alarming news reaches us from the four buildings under his contingent’s control. “They are right before us. They are launching grenades. We saw them around the corner.” Following the young officers of the assault we try to reach the bullet-swept roof. It’s impossible to go out and return the fire. A sniper shoots a bullet from a small window at the back which hits the wall just above our heads.