Friday, 4 November
Arwa Damon, CNN, reports.
„Here’s a massive firefight down a street.
We go into the house of the man who hung the flag. It’s actually a rag he tied to a pole.
His family cowers inside.
The man’s daughter, Nour, is 19. She can’t stop crying – afraid of the shooting and that the soldiers will take her father away.
The man gives the soldiers tea and biscuits. Outside, the shooting continues down a main road.
We go out.
Two soldiers drag a body back. It’s a wounded man, an older man. No one knows who he is.
He was driving a yellow taxi toward the troops. They ordered him to stop and then fired.
Brice filmed the whole thing. He had stopped his car, started quickly walking towards us. One soldier shouted for him to stop, another to sit, another to come. Bullets fly, he falls into a ditch. One soldier screams „Why did you shoot him?”
The driver died shortly afterwards.
The shooting continues.
The old man’s body is wrapped in a pink floral blanket. The medic next to him is cutting and folding bandages.
The soldiers are chatting. Now that there is a break, they are asking us where we are from and if we are married.
Everyone scrambles for the vehicles.
The gunfire just got too intense – grenades thrown into the street right behind us. At least three of them.
Second Lieutenant Wael Saheb-Ali is hurt – a chunk of shrapnel flew across the back of the vehicle, lodging itself above his left eye. Just a minute earlier he was telling Brice that he was recently engaged and wants to get married and have children as soon as the war is over.
Another jumps into the armored vehicle with some shrapnel to the thigh.
Another explosion just outside the window.
They want to make it across the street where the shooting is heaviest to treat the injuries but we can’t move.
An ISIS radio voice asks for backup.
A captain we are with takes a selfie with us, then yells for a route to be opened up so we can move out.
He scrolls through pictures of his family, shows me a photo of his wife and his six kids. He was born in 1984. He tells me I look 46. For the record, I am 39.