At least 20,000 children are trapped inside the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah as government forces battle to recapture it from Daesh.
The warning comes from the UN children's agency which says that very few families have been able to escape since the army offensive began last week.
Youngsters left behind face the risk of forced recruitment in the fighting according to UNICEF, which wants safe passage for all civilians wishing to leave.
"Children who are recruited see their lives and futures jeopardised as they are forced to carry and use arms, fighting in an adult war," said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq.
There are an estimated 50,000 civilians still in Fallujah, living in increasingly difficult conditions. People have been dying of starvation and killed if they refuse to fight for Daesh, according to reports.
Lt. Colonel Muhand al-Tamimi said his Iraqi Counter-terrorism Forces have continued advancing towards their targets to liberate Fallujah from Daesh.
"God willing, our troops are determined to liberate the city in full," he said.
But it won't be easy. Iraqi forces have faced fierce resistance in what is set to be one of the biggest battles ever fought against the Daesh group, which appears to be holding civilians as human shields.
Backed by Shia militias and air strikes from the US-led coalition, Iraqi armed forces launched their offensive on May 23 to recapture Fallujah, 50 kilometres west of Baghdad and the first Iraqi city that fell under Daesh control in January 2014.
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