‘ISIS Put Us in a Crypt’ – One Family’s Impossible Escape

“They put us in a crypt.”

As the battle for Mosul neared its brutal end, we met an amazing woman named Nadila, just moments after she and her five children were rescued from ISIS.

For days, they were on the run, trying to find a way out of the nightmare that engulfed their city, site of the deadliest urban combat since World War II.

ISIS fighters had charged into Nadila’s home, determined to use it as a position to fight Iraqi soldiers, who were recapturing Mosul one street at a time.

ISIS forced Nadila and her children into the street. Amid sniper fire and airstrikes, the family went door to door, until they finally found a house to hide inside. They took shelter in the basement… except basement is not the word Nadila used when telling us her story.

She used the Arabic word for crypt.

As far as Nadila was concerned, she and her children were going down to their death.

Iraqi Special Forces knew the family was inside the house. They could hear their cries. But the battle all around was so intense, there was no way to get them out to safety.

Nadila and her children were trapped in the “crypt” for days. Starving. In desperate need of food and water.

Then Iraqi troops did something incredible. They undertook a dangerous mission, jumping from roof to roof, dodging bullets and airstrikes to reach the house Nadila and her children were trapped in.

They were able to send enough food and water into the “crypt” to keep Nadila’s family alive until the area was cleared of ISIS fighters.

They brought Nadila out of the crypt, out from death.

A soldier cradles Sidra, while her mother Nadila receives medical attention. Photo by Ihsan Ibraheem / Preemptive Love Coalition.

As Nadila and her children made it out of the war zone, you were there to welcome them back to life. You provided the food, water, and shoes that we gave to families escaping the Old City that day, where ISIS made its last stand in Mosul. Iraqi military personnel provided medical care for Nadila while a soldier held her youngest baby, Sidra, in his arms.

It was such a beautiful, unexpected moment. A family’s remarkable escape. A soldier smitten by a tiny baby in his arms. Life triumphing in Mosul.

You were a part of this story one year ago. You are a part of life returning to Mosul today. Thank you.


Stand with Mosul’s families as they rebuild after war.

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