Near the Grand Mosque in eastern Mosul, just across the river from ISIS-held western Mosul
On Sunday, the Iraqi military launched a new offensive to retake the western portion of Mosul from ISIS.
Iraqi forces have spent the last four months pushing toward Mosul. In recent weeks, they’ve managed to take back the eastern side of the city, which is roughly split in half by the Tigris River.
Officials expect this new offensive to be even more challenging because the west side of Mosul has narrower streets is more densely populated.
The UN estimates that approximately 750,000 civilians still live in Mosul's west, under "siege-like" conditions. Civilians who have fled the region report that food is running out. No one knows what people are going to do once the battle lands on their doorstep.
“Matthew… come now, come here!”
Waleed’s usually stoic face was bent upward and clearly excited. A devout Muslim, Waleed worked for years as a soldier with special forces, and he has the sorrow and stories to prove it. He is more than qualified to work as a security specialist on our front-line deliveries. But now, standing there with that big grin on his scarred face, he looked more like a little kid.
Seeing his smile made me angry.
Abdul Bassit after surviving an explosion in Syria that took both his legs (Twitter)
There is a video of an 8-year-old boy in Syria lying on the ground, moments after an alleged airstrike. His legs are gone, blown off at the knees.
His mother is dead. His sister is dead.
I watched yesterday… and as shocking as it was, I could almost handle it. Until he started crying, “Pick me up, daddy. Pick me up.”
At this point, there are few people on earth who don’t know there’s a crisis in Syria.
Swipe your screen for a front row seat to years of Syrian families running, wailing, suffering. Then, when it surely couldn’t get worse, the crisis reached a horrible apex: hundreds of thousands fled a burning Aleppo, and the world seemed to wake up—if just for a few minutes—to the fact that “their” crisis “over there” is somehow ours, too.
“Most of the children, when ISIS ruled, they loved weapons. They saw weapons. We saw too many kids carrying weapons. It’s heartbreaking, believe me.”
As I listened to this man, sipping tea in his home deep inside Mosul, gunfire and falling bombs in the background, I remember the sounds around me more than anything. The sofa creaked, tiny spoons clinked against teacups, and the unsettling thunder of war a few blocks away.
If you’ve been with us awhile, chances are you’ve read those words before: you just provided food for thousands of families on the front lines!
And it’s true, you did.
Families in Aleppo, Fallujah, and Mosul are dining today because you helped cover the bill. You heard them, came alongside them in their suffering, you gave—and our teams used that money to buy aid in bulk, load trucks, slog through checkpoints, and then deliver that food to thousands of families.
It’s exciting, right?
But what about when it isn’t?
Iraqi soldier in eastern Mosul, near a medical clinic you're helping refurbish. Today, ISIS launched suicide attacks in this part of the city.
From Rudaw Media Network:
Two suicide bombings have struck the left bank [eastern side] of Mosul, killing at least nine, including an Iraqi army officer, and injuring others, an intelligence source with the Iraqi army told Rudaw.
This month, we’re serving hundreds of families in a remote area west of Mosul. They are caught up in the fight against ISIS in a part of Iraq controlled mainly by Shia militias. No other organizations have been able to reach these families, not even the UN. But you lean into the hard places, for families like these…
Ali, 5 years old, is a shepherd. He’s fantastic with animals.
"I loved those animals and considered them my friends," Ali explained. He is so attached to them, he gave them each names like “Blacky” and “Spots.”
Ali and his family are displaced because of the war with ISIS. Right now, they live in an old, abandoned village west of Mosul. They are in a terrible situation because the village is without access to food and clean water. There is nothing for people or their animals to eat, except for food that the local soldiers—part of the Shia militias who control this area—share out of their own rations.
While some debate whether it's "safe" to welcome refugees, you're showing up to serve hundreds of displaced families in a remote part of Iraq. They're caught in the fight against ISIS in an area controlled mainly by Shia militias. No other organizations have been able to reach these families, not even the UN. But you lean into the hard places, for kids like Wya'am. This is her story.