As thousands of refugees flee Mosul, fears that ISIS will hide in plain sight

Refugees fleeing Mosul

Near MOSUL, Iraq -- Thousands of refugees have escaped Mosul, but they represent a fraction of those still trapped under ISIS inside Iraq’s second-largest city.

But there are fears already that ISIS fighters could use the exodus to escape, or launch terror attacks.

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Refugees board a truck bound for a camp CBS News

At a camp housing some refugees from Mosul, the men are separated on arrival to be interrogated.

The men say they welcome it because they fled to the camp to be safe.

But Ahmed, who came from Hawija to the south, is accused of being an ISIS fighter. He admits that his father and two brothers joined the extremists, but he’s adamant that he didn’t.

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Men at a refugee camp wait to be questioned CBS News

“We heard there was an amnesty for people, even if they had family members in ISIS,” Ahmed said. “So I came to find out.”

He can only join the other refugees if he can prove he’s innocent.

A week in to the Mosul offensive, ISIS is outgunned and outmanned, but fighting back with its trademark guerrilla tactics like suicide attacks and car bombs, digging networks of tunnels and launching surprise assaults, like one in the town of Rutba, 200 miles west of Baghdad.

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Children at a refugee camp CBS News

Planting its fighters among desperate refugees to wreak more violence is a tactic that ISIS will find hard to resist.

Since the offensive began, the United Nations has received unconfirmed reports of massacres in Mosul, including the killing of 50 police officers and the murder of 70 civilians in a village near the city.