Iraqi soldier reunited with family after two years apart

Iraqi lieutenant reunites with his family
Iraqi lieutenant reunites with his family

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Iraqi lieutenant reunites with his family 00:45

Story highlights

  • Special forces soldier spots his family amid refugees fleeing Mosul
  • He had been separated from his loved ones for two years

(CNN)It's a heartwarming moment amid the carnage of the battle to liberate Mosul.

An Iraqi lieutenant -- part of the elite Golden Division special forces fighting to take back Iraq's second city from ISIS -- was stationed at a checkpoint in Bartella, about 25 kilometers to the east of the city, when he spotted some familiar faces Tuesday.
    Mosul's importance explained
    Mosul's importance explained

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      Mosul's importance explained

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    Mosul's importance explained 01:49
    Amid a group of refugees fleeing the city's outskirts were his mother, his father, and his nephew, whom the soldier had been separated from for over two years.
    The soldier gave his name as 1st. Lt. Salam to the CNN producer who captured the moment.
    After embracing a group of adults, including his mother, father and brother, he picks up his young nephew and holds him, walking away from the group. He then falls to his knees and kisses him, before picking him up and carrying him away. The joy on both their faces obvious to all.
    1st Lt. Salam later told CNN his family fled Bazwaya a mere hour after ISIS turned up at their house and ordered them to go to Mosul.
    He says his father asked the ISIS fighters if he could have a few minutes to get his family. His father then went back to his house to collect them. Not long after that, coalition air strikes hit ISIS positions in the city, giving the family an opportunity to escape.
    1st Lt. Salam says the last two and a half years have been a "living nightmare" and that he still can't believe his family are alive.
    Iraqi forces were on the doorstep of ISIS-held Mosul on Tuesday, the closest they've been since launching an operation two weeks ago to wrest the city from more than two years of ISIS rule.
    CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that 1st. Lt. Salam was reunited with his nephew.