More than one thousand civilians, some barefoot, braved cold and rain as they fled fierce fighting between the Islamic State and the Iraqi forces west of Mosul.

Walking in the rain, cold and mud, about 1,000 civilians crossed the frontline to arrive at a sector held by the Iraq’s counter-terrorism service south of Mosul.

The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants, including many who travelled from western countries, are hiding among the remaining civilian population.

Aid agencies estimated about 750,000 civilians at the start of the latest offensive.

The offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic forces started in October.

Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris River on February 19.

According to United Nations. More than 191,000 people have fled the city since the start of the offensive and more than 31,000 civilians have been forced from their homes in western Mosul since February 19.

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