ISIS militants abduct tens of thousands of civilians from around Iraqi city of Mosul to use as human shields
Bagdad, Oct 29: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has abducted tens of thousands of men, women and children from around Mosul to use as human shields in the imminent battle for the city, the UN has said.
The militants forced more than 8,000 families to leave their homes before marching them into Iraq’s second city, which they are defending from advancing troops.
“Isil’s depraved, cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilian hostages to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesman for the UN rights office.
Those who refused their orders were shot on the spot. The body reported that 232 people, including 190 former members of Iraq’s security service, were killed on Wednesday and 24 on Tuesday.
It is believed the families are now being held in buildings around Isil’s central military institutions, making it more difficult for coalition planes to target the militants.
“Isil took all of us from our homes at gunpoint and told us they were taking us with them to Mosul,” one resident told AP. “They said if you don’t come with us you’re an unbeliever.”
He and his family managed to escape when US airstrikes caused the fighters to scatter during the 25-mile forced walk from their home in the town of al-Shura to Mosul.
The jihadists have stopped civilians leaving Mosul, bobby trapping the roads out and threatening anyone caught trying to escape with execution.
The offensive to retake Mosul – which fell to Isil in a matter of days in summer 2014 – is the largest military operation in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Some 90,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have faced stiff resistance from the jihadists, who are using snipers, car bombs and suicide attacks to defend the surrounding towns and villages.
Mosul is the largest city still under Isil’s control and they are expected to throw everything they have into the battle, including homemade chemical weapons, tunnels filled with burning oil and IEDs.