Iraqi security forces help wounded civilians as they flee the violence in the city of Ramadi, Iraq, January 16, 2016. Picture taken January 16, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
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When Daesh (ISIS) militants fleeing the Iraqi military's advance in Ramadi tried to force Mohammad Nafaa to follow them across the city for the fourth time in as many months, he and his family hid inside and hoped to be left alone.The discovery of more civilians than expected trapped among the ruins, after what the survivors say was a deliberate effort by fighters to use them as shields, suggests future battles against Daesh could be more complicated.Contrary to initial estimates in the hundreds, commanders say their forces have so far extricated about 3,800 civilians from Ramadi, a city of hundreds of thousands of residents largely evacuated after Daesh seized control in May. Established and trained by U.S. Special Forces following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the counterterrorism forces are equipped to handle limited operations involving civilians such as hostage situations. But dealing with civilians on this scale is uncharted territory for the force of several hundred black-clad soldiers. Martial songs blasting through loudspeakers atop counterterrorism forces' Humvees signaled a brief respite from the resident civilians' suffering in Ramadi.
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