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ISIS kidnaps Mosul civilians, recruits child soldiers

Iraqi security forces, who were advancing toward Mosul, reached the last major town before the city on Friday

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The United Nations said Friday that ISIS has kidnapped 1,600 civilians from Hammam al-Alil, a district about 20 km south of the militant group’s stronghold of Mosul in Iraq, and asked residents to hand over children, especially boys, to recruit them as child soldiers.

The UN made its statement as Iraqi security forces, who were advancing north along the Tigris river toward Mosul, reached the last major town before the city on Friday, a police commander said.

Major-General Thamer al-Husseini said federal police forces entered Hammam al-Alil which Iraqi army forces have been attacking for several days.

“Our units entered the Salahiya district of Hammam al-Alil,” Husseini told Iraqi television. “We have Hammam al-Alil covered from more than one side and I think within hours we will be able to announce to the Iraqi people the clearing of Hammam al-Alil and surrounding areas.”

The police forces are trying to capture the town are part of an Iraqi force advancing on the southern front toward Mosul.

Special forces, who swept in from the east, have already entered the city, while Peshmerga forces are sealing off northeastern flanks and mainly Shiite Popular Mobilization forces are trying to cut off the western side.

ISIS fighters retreating north to Mosul have forced thousands of residents of villages and towns such as Hammam al-Alil to travel alongside them as human shields against air strikes, villagers have told Reuters.

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1,600 kidnapped civilians

The United Nations said the militants transported 1,600 abducted civilians from Hammam al-Alil to the town of Tal Afar west of Mosul on Tuesday, and took another 150 families from the town to Mosul the next day.

They told residents to hand over children, especially boys above the age of nine, in an apparent recruitment drive for child soldiers, UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

“Also on Wednesday, ISIL reportedly used loudspeakers to order the residents of Lazaghah and Arij villages, about 5 km from Hammam al-Alil city center, to leave their villages or be severely punished,” Shamdasani said, using a different acronym for ISIS.

She added: “They’ve been knocking on people’s doors and asking for their boys.” The spokeswoman said families that did not comply were threatened with severe punishment.

Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent said schools are being used to hold these kidnaped civilians as captives, adding there are civilians who are being executed for collaborating with the Iraqi forces.

The correspondent said there are also executions being committed of ISIS members themselves.


(With Reuters)

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