CNN’s Arwa Damon and photographer Brice Laine survived 24 harrowing hours in ISIS-held Mosul Saturday, after the Iraqi forces they were traveling with were ambushed. Vehicles were destroyed, soldiers were hurt, but the CNN journalists were not injured.
“We just took a direct hit. I don’t know what it was,” Damon said in notes she took during the hours of repeated attacks. “My ears are ringing. Brice has a small wound on the side of his head. The captain has a head wound. One of the guys is hit in his shoulder. I have blood on me but it’s not mine.”
Damon and Laine have been in Iraq since the beginning of the effort to re-take Mosul from ISIS. Unlike previous reporting outside the city, Damon described the fighting inside as “the craziest crap I have seen.”
A white car just went flying down the side street in front of us. Right between the battalion. Then a rocket-propelled grenade came flying in.
They keep calling for air power.
This fight is nothing like that of the outskirts. This is in the side streets against an enemy that knows them and rules the rooftops. The rooftops of homes that have civilians inside.
“There is heavy incoming, heavy incoming,” the captain calls on the radio. “We need air power now! We are getting hit from all sides.”
In an interview with TVNewser last week, Damon described interviewing people who escaped Mosul ahead of the fighting, many of whom told of horrific violence and killing at the hands of ISIS. “I shudder to think about what we are going to hear from the city itself.”
After 24 hours in danger, taking shelter at times in people’s homes–many with children who cared for the CNNers while mortars exploded outside–Damon and crew escaped to safety after the arrival of military reinforcements.
“We are out. We are so fortunate. All we can think of are the families, those kids, the fear on their faces. The soldiers who are still fighting, the knowledge that it will only get worse.
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) November 5, 2016