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Sunni town, Shiite PMU join forces in fight against IS

Hundreds of civilians flee daily from the Islamic State-controlled areas toward Sunni areas under control of the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units.
Militias known as Hashid Shaabi gather in the streets of the town of al-Alam March 10, 2015.  Iraqi troops and militias drove Islamic State insurgents out of the town of al-Alam on Tuesday, clearing a final hurdle before a planned assault on Saddam Hussein's home city of Tikrit in their biggest offensive yet against the ultra-radical group.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT) - RTR4STTA

AL-ALAM, Iraq — With the operation to liberate Mosul ongoing, dozens of families are fleeing the battlefield and are being killed simply because they are caught in the crossfire. Civilians fleeing Islamic State-held Hawija, 120 kilometers (74 miles) south of Mosul, toward al-Alam area were killed Nov. 5, and this has now become a daily tragedy.

Al-Alam is a Sunni town with strong tribal ties that has long collaborated with the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the fight against IS. It is a predominantly agricultural town with an estimated 60,000 inhabitants, according to a local police officer, and is located just over 10 kilometers (6 miles) across the Tigris River from former President Saddam Hussein’s native city of Tikrit.

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