Dramatic new video from the ISIS stronghold of Mosul captures the pitched battle between the black-clad jihadist army and the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces - and the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.
Airing Monday on Fox News' “Shepard Smith Reporting," the Sky News video captured the firefights, damage and desperation as the world's most feared terrorist group makes its last stand in the war-torn nation.
“And in the middle, Mosul residents too scared to leave and terrified at staying," Sky News Special Corespondent Alex Crawford says.
Footage depicts Iraqi soldiers, with members of the press, taking sniper fire on a rooftop and moving on ISIS positions as coalition attack helicopters roar above.
Crawford reveals the human side of the fighting, meeting with one family that has converted their home into a bunker, with makeshift blast walls made from sandbags. They venture out only for sustenance.
"They pick their way past dead bodies covered by blankets and burnt-out suicide car bombs."
- Sky News Special Correspondent Alex Crawford
"They pick their way past dead bodies covered by blankets and burnt-out suicide car bombs," Crawford says. "They’d only gone out to forage for food.”
Flame-ravaged car bombs, their exploded gas canisters visible inside the twisted hulks, litter the roads. More civilians are fleeing, Crawfor says, encouraged by ISIS’ pending defeat and afraid of remaining in the crossfire.
"The destruction in central Mosul is extensive," Crawford says. "Swaths of the city literally reduced to rubble.”
The exclusive video was shot as the U.S. sends 200 more troops to Iraq “to advise and assist” in the offensive against the Islamic State in western Mosul. It's a crucial point in the campaignt to finish off ISIS, Smith noted.
“Take this city, and ISIS will be crippled,” the veteran newsman said.
The report comes on the heels of a statement by American officials on Saturday confirming that an airstrike targeting ISIS fighters in Mosul -- that witnesses say killed at least 100 people -- was in fact launched by the U.S. military.
U.S. officials did not confirm the reports of civilian casualties but opened an investigation. In the days following the March 17 airstrike, U.S. officials had said they were unsure whether American forces were behind the attack.
The statement issued by the U.S.-led coalition said the airstrike had been requested by Iraqi security forces to target IS fighters and equipment "at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties." U.S.-backed government troops were fighting IS forces in that area of western Mosul, the statement said.
The coalition said it takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and a formal Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment had been opened to determine the facts surrounding this strike and the validity of the allegation of civilian casualties.
"Our goal has always been for zero civilian casualties, but the coalition will not abandon our commitment to our Iraqi partners because of ISIS's inhuman tactics terrorizing civilians, using human shields, and fighting from protected sites such as schools, hospitals, religious sites and civilian neighborhoods," the coalition said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.