On a main road to central Mosul, just inside the city limits, crowds of people had gathered. Black-clad women stood next to children in vivid winter coats. Old men sat on benches in front of smudged white walls and a young boy on a donkey cart touted for passengers.
Business had been brisk in the past few weeks as people left the city for the safety of refugee camps 30 miles east. But not any more.
The few local people paying to ride were mostly heading back to their homes carrying food that they had just bought from a makeshift market, the first to spring up since this part of the city was retaken from Islamic State extremists by the Iraqi army.
One mile from the front line in the war with Isis, with the cacophony of the conflict raging, Mosul’s residents seem reluctant to leave. So far, only the smaller part of …