According to the Telegraph newspaper, ISIL leaders have started to flee the Iraqi city of Mosul, as US-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces close in on ISIL largest stronghold.
With as many as two million residents, Mosul is the group’s de facto capital in Iraq and the biggest city under its control anywhere across its self-proclaimed state.
The newspaper added that civilians caught trying to escape are killed by ISIL, which has had a stranglehold on the city for more than two years.
They have lined the routes out with mines and snipers.
It has previously been estimated there are 9,000 die-hard ISIL insurgents in the city, and that dislodging them will require at least 30,000 men, engaged in house-to-house fighting for up to six months.