CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon reported Friday from the Khazer refugee camp in Iraq, talking to children displaced by the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIS.
“It’s something I won’t ever get used to, it’s something that is always jarring,” Damon told TVNewser. “I have such admiration for their resilience, but sadly there’s nothing they said that really surprised me. There is no limit to the sheer evil and cruelty that we hear about.”
Damon, along with CNN correspondents Nick Paton Walsh and Michael Holmes, has been covering the fight for Mosul for the last two weeks. It has been difficult to get reliable information from inside the city, and some of the most valuable reports come from refugees who were able to escape. “What is especially chilling is that the refugees we are talking to say the closer you are to Mosul – and now as the troops get closer to Mosul – the more brutal the treatment is at the hands of ISIS,” Damon said. “I shudder to think about what we are going to hear from the city itself. Already just today, for example, there are reports that ISIS strung around 20 people together in Mosul, electrocuted them and left their bodies as a message to others.”
Damon, who covered a rocket attack on the town of Taza that may have involved mustard gas, continues to follow reports ISIS intends to use chemical weapons to defend Mosul. “It seems that their capabilities are quite basic. But is it unnerving? Yes, of course.”
For Damon and her team, including photographer Brice Laine (above, right), the risks of reporting only lessen when they pull back to their hotel in a city about 50 miles from Mosul. “Each time we walk through the door, we realize how fortunate we are. That whatever story we may have covered that day from the advance and the fighting, the suffering of the civilians, the tragedies and the courage, we have the option and the ability to be able to retreat.”