(Al Jazeera) – Abu Mohammed’s grandchildren live in near constant darkness now. It has not been safe to go outside for a long time and he keeps the curtains of their home, in eastern Mosul’s al-Zahra district, drawn to provide at least a little protection from shards of glass and shrapnel. The 12 children spend most of their time huddled together on mattresses underneath the stairs, their skin now unnaturally pale and eyes adjusted to the dim glow of a kerosene lantern. “It is safe here,” he says gesturing towards them. “Much better than the other places.”