As I write this a combination of Iranian-backed Shiite militias and Sunni tribal fighters, assisted by U.S. and ally airstrikes, mount a siege around the ISIS-controlled city of Fallujah. Inside, thousands of ISIS fighters, who took residence in Fallujah’s neighborhoods almost 2.5 years ago, wait: their snipers ready, their land mines buried, their barricades defying the attack.
Suspended between all this are 50,000 souls trapped within the city walls. Men, women, and children — who alone number around 20,000 — face the cruelest days of their lives, as ISIS fighters will stop at nothing to keep control of the city.
If they flee, they’ll get shot. If they stay, they’ll be used as human shields — even the women and children. Recently, images leaked out of Fallujah of children with blond hair and bright eyes. They are either Christians or Yazidis and they will escape or they will die a brutal death.
The last time humanitarian aid entered Fallujah was late September of 2015. It has been more than 8 months since basic supplies and health essentials have been available to the people trapped within the city. All supply lines into Fallujah have been cut.
The innocent people forced to live in ISIS’ terrorist state have been surviving on food for their cattle; they’ve been drinking polluted water. The constant shelling robs them even of their sleep.
Their only hope sits 30km away in Amiriyat al-Fallujah, the closest place the Iraqi army has designated as a safe spot for those fleeing the city. But getting there is not easy.