This is the dramatic moment Iraqi soldiers disarm a young child in a Chelsea kit who was found with what appears to be a suicide bomb strapped around his waist.
The boy, thought to be about seven, was seized outside the war-torn Iraqi city of Mosul after hiding among families fleeing ISIS.
A soldier can be seen gently lifting up the child’s blue shirt, bearing the name of Chelsea star Eden Hazard, to reveal what looks like an explosive belt fastened to his midriff.
In a tense two-minute clip, he then slowly snips wires and cuts away the device while telling the youngster: ‘Don’t be afraid’.
Video of the encounter was captured outside Mosul. A caption with the footage, released on LiveLeak, claims that the boy is the youngest ever child suicide bomber – however this has not been verified.
In the clip a soldier can be seen crouching down next to the youngster and speaking to the camera.
He says the video is being filmed on March 18 and then explains that the child, who he says is about seven, was sent by ISIS.
The child, thought to be called Uday, says he was sent by ‘Amo’, which means uncle, with instructions to target ‘the army’.
The soldier then asks him to raise his arms. In the next few moments, the soldier slowly snips off bandages holding up the device, which appears to include a mobile phone and batteries.
When the child flinches, the soldier says: ‘Don’t be afraid’.
The harrowing video emerged as Iraqi government forces attempted to evacuate civilians from Mosul’s ISIS-held Old City on Tuesday so that troops could clear the area, but militant snipers hampered the effort, Iraqi officers said.
They said the insurgents were also using civilians as human shields as government units edged towards the al-Nuri Mosque, the focus of recent fighting in the five-month-long campaign to crush Islamic State in the city that was once the de facto capital of their self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate.
As many as 600,000 civilians remain in the western sector of Mosul, complicating a battle being fought with artillery and air strikes as well as ground combat. Thousands have escaped in recent days.
‘Our forces control around 60 percent of the west now,’ Defence Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told a news conference in eastern Mosul. ‘It’s the Old City now with small streets and it’s a hard fight with civilians inside. We are trying to evacuate them.
‘We are a few hundred meters from the mosque now, we are advancing on al-Nuri. We know it means a lot to Daesh,’ he said, using an Arab acronym for Islamic State.
The capture of the mosque would be a huge symbolic prize as well as strategic gain for the government as it was there where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr alâBaghdadi declared the caliphate in July 2014 after the militants had captured large areas of Iraq and Syria.
Government forces backed by a U.S.-led international coalition retook several cities last year, liberated eastern Mosul in December, and are now closing in on the west, but the militants are putting up fierce resistance from the close-packed houses and narrow streets.
Baghdadi and other leaders have fled the city for the hinterlands, where ISIS remnants may regroup and wage a new phase of insurgency. At the same time, ISIS forces in the Syrian city of Raqqa are under attack in a parallel conflict.
Brigadier General Saad Maan said soldiers had killed nine ISIS snipers on Tuesday and destroyed a bomb factory.
‘There are lots of snipers on top of the buildings in the Old City around the al-Nuri Mosque. We need to evacuate the families from inside as they using them as a shield when we are advancing on the mosque,’ he told the news conference.
No precise toll of civilian casualties has been given but a prominent Iraqi politician said last week that the number could be as high as 3,500 dead since the attack on western Mosul started in mid-February.
An emergency field hospital set up by the U.S. medical charity Samaritan’s Purse says it has treated more than 1,000 patients, many of them women and children, since January. They suffered wounds from gunfire, land mines, mortar rounds, car bombings and booby-traps.
Reporters at the frontline on Tuesday said clashes took place around the railway station in some areas troops had held a few days earlier. Troops fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machineguns at militants around the station as families ran across streets to avoid snipers
‘We sitting inside our house and bullets were coming through our door’ said one woman fleeing to government lines.
Saad Maan also said the bodies of a colonel and two other officers who had gone missing during the battle had been found. The colonel had been shot. But he said the men had not been captured by the insurgents.
An Interior Ministry official told Reuters on Monday that the insurgents had captured a police colonel and eight other officers after they ran out of ammunition during a skirmish. But a Rapid Response units spokesman denied this when asked for comment on Monday night.
The issue is sensitive as ISIS have a record of torturing, mutilating and killing military and civilian captives, and such an incident could be a blow to troops’ morale.
The number of displaced people from both sides of Mosul since the start of the offensive has reached 355,000, according to government figures. Some 181,000 had poured out of western Mosul since the start of the operations to retake that side.