Mosul, Iraq – Amid the devastation of Mosul’s Old City, surrounded by the sounds of gunfire and explosions and engulfed by the stench of rotting flesh, volunteer medics worked day and night to provide life-saving care to injured civilians and soldiers.

With little more than a few makeshift hospital beds set up inside a dark, abandoned storefront, and with only the most basic medical resources, international medical organisations confronted the human cost of the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Working alongside the Iraqi army, the medics set up makeshift field clinics as close as possible to the front lines, moving forward as Iraqi forces gained ground.

A medical team leader would make a quick triage assessment of each person’s needs and injuries as they arrived. After being stabilised, patients were taken to a nearby hospital for additional care.

Many civilians arriving at the clinic expressed relief and joy at having escaped ISIL and the deathtrap of Mosul’s Old City. Isra, 30, who sustained an injury to her face, cried with relief to be free, noting: “Today is our birthday because it’s the first day we are free.” Her two-year-old son was killed in the fighting a day earlier.

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