QAYYARAH: Extremists have killed scores of people and taken tens of thousands to use as human shields in the Mosul area, the United Nations said Friday, as Iraqi forces temporarily halted their advance on the city.
Thousands of people have fled from areas surrounding Mosul, prompting a warning of “massive displacement” when fighting starts inside Daesh’s stronghold.
Daesh’s “depraved, cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilians to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations,” Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.
The radicals are “effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields,” he said.
The UN human rights office said that credible reports indicate Daesh has forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and forcibly taken civilians into Mosul, killing those who resist or who were previously members of Iraqi security forces. The population of Hamam Al-Alil, a Daesh-held area south of Mosul that is an upcoming target for Iraqi forces, has nearly trebled, it said.
Daesh reportedly shot dead 232 people in a single day on Wednesday and killed 24 the previous day, the rights office said.
The killings, which the UN said have been “corroborated to the extent possible,” are just the latest in a long list of atrocities committed by the radicals since they overran swathes of Iraq in 2014.
The UN report came as Iraqi forces were temporarily halting their advance on Mosul for a period which the US-led anti-Daesh coalition said was expected to last “a couple of days.”
“They are pausing and repositioning, refitting and doing some back clearing,” coalition spokesman Col. John Dorrian told reporters.
“We think it will just be a couple of days and then we are back on the march toward Mosul,” he said, adding that Iraqi forces were between 10-20 km from the city.