Ten-year-old Aysha lived in Kafer, Iraq, just outside the ISIS-held city of Mosul.
The Islamic State fought fiercely just outside her village, leaving a trail of death, horror and grief.
Kafer was under ISIS control for over two years until October this year, when Iraqi troops fought their way into the village on their way to Mosul.
US airstrikes in the region enabled Iraqi forces to clear Kafer, where Aysha openly wept upon seeing her saviors.
The little girl, dressed in a sparkly T-shirt and pink leggings, fought back tears of relief while thanking the soldiers – even offering to kiss their feet in her joy.
She was given bottled water and food by the soldiers, who knew the village was slowly starving to death.
“I’m so thankful to you,” Daily Mail reported her saying. “I thought you would never come for us. We have no food or water for thee days and it was jut me and my mother, my father was taken and killed by the terrorists.
“The IS men have taken away so many children from my village and we don’t know what happeneed to them. Some of them died.
“The men made my mother give them her money and jewels and we have had nothing. Thank you, thank you. I would like to kiss your feet.”
The soldier beside her was touched by her story. He kissed the top of her head then lifted her into his arms and carried the girl to safety.
The villagers were taken to Qayyarah, another nearby village that has already been cleared of all ISIS fighters.
Though the people of Kafer were spared, several other villages have fallen prey to ISIS, which the UN and Iraqi troops have been hard at work to eradicate.
The city of Mosul is currently one of the terrorist group’s most powerful cities and has been under ISIS rule since June 2014.
Over 1.5 million citizens were either killed, recruited as fighters, turned into sex slaves or enslaved for other reasons.
Every assault unit in Iraq, including militias and foreign troops, assembled at the Qayyarah military base to prepare for the battle for Mosul.
Tank commander Lieutenant Colonel Muntha Ibrahim Obed shared: “This time we will not stop until IS is run out of our country. They are an intelligent enemy, but brutal.
“They don’t care if they die and that makes them very dangerous. To see suicide trucks driving at your troops, the men you want to protect, is a terrible thing.
“I always go with my men on sorties because I want them to see I will take the same risks as them. But this IS enemy is difficult with its snipers and its clever ways with explosives.
“They made chlorine bombs – using the blast device to disperse the chemical – and two of my men were killed, another two injured. This is not warfare. This is the devil’s work.
“We hope to end this evil within weeks. We can do it because we have the training and the equipment and the will to get our country back and restore it to its people.”
By Kenya Sinclair