Daesh militants are using tens of thousands of people as human shields in and around the extremist group's stronghold of Mosul as Iraqi forces press forward with a major offensive to retake the northern city, the United Nations said Friday.
The abducted people include at least 5,370 families from the area of Shura, south of Mosul, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
“Forced out at gunpoint, or killed if they resist or try to flee, these people are reportedly being moved to strategic ISIL locations,” the agency said in a statement, using an acronym for Daesh.
“ISIL’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, effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields,” UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said.
OHCHR said that Daesh reportedly executed 232 civilians in Mosul on Wednesday.
The victims included 190 people that previously fought for the Iraqi army, while others had refused to join Daesh, the agency added.
Twenty-four others were reportedly killed by the militants on Tuesday.
"Some were shot dead - even though they followed orders of the IS," OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva.
There was no official comment from Baghdad.
Iraqi independent website Alsumaria News, citing an unnamed local source, said Daesh extremists in Mosul were holding the families of people they had earlier executed.
The militants transported the abducted families to an unknown area amid fears they will be executed for showing opposition to the organization, the report said.
On October 17, government forces and Kurdish troops, backed by a US-led air alliance, started a high-profile campaign to liberate Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
Iraq has since reported advances in the mission.
An estimated 1.2 million civilians, including at least 600,000 children, are trapped in the city.
Mosul has been under Daesh control since mid-2014. In recent months, the radical group has suffered military setbacks and lost ground in Iraq.
By Sandra Walder and Ramadan Al-Fatash
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