UN reports more civilians forced to Mosul, possibly as shields
ISIS militants killed 40 former members of the Iraqi Security Forces near Mosul on Saturday and threw their bodies in the Tigris river
The UN said Tuesday it had received more reports of ISIS militants forcing thousands of civilians into Mosul, possibly to be used as human shields against advancing Iraqi troops.
The militants also reportedly killed another 40 former Iraqi Security Force (ISF) members before dumping their bodies in the river, UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
The rights office has listed numerous ISIS atrocities, including tens of thousands of forced relocations and hundreds of executions, allegedly committed in and around Mosul since a government operation to retake the northern city began last month.
Some of the allegations have been termed “preliminary” and needing more investigation.
Asked about the credibility of the fresh reports, Shamdasani said: “This is raw information. It hasn’t gone through our usual verification processes,” while stressing that rights office sources were “reliable.”
In the early hours of Monday, ISIS fighters “brought dozens of long trucks and mini-buses to Hamam al-Alil City, south of Mosul, in an attempt to forcibly transfer some 25,000 civilians towards locations in and around Mosul,” the rights office said in a statement.
Most of the vehicles were prevented from reaching Mosul because of coalition aircraft patrolling the area, the statement added.
Shamdasani said there was “a pattern” of the militants surrounding their offices and bases with civilians.
“That seems to support the assertion that they are planning to use these people as human shields as well as to make sure that the area is heavily populated with civilians to frustrate a military operation against them,” she added.
Separately on Saturday, 40 ex-ISF officers “were killed and their bodies thrown in the Tigris River,” after being kidnapped by ISIS earlier in the week, Shamdasani further said.
That brings to 296 the number of former Iraqi security officers killed by ISIS since last Tuesday, according to the UN.
The UN made its statements after Iraq’s special forces entered the outskirts of Mosul on Tuesday and were advancing toward its more urban center despite fierce resistance by ISIS militants who hold the city, an Iraqi general said.