ISIS killing hundreds of civilians, forcefully recruiting child soldiers for defence of Mosul

An Iraqi youth, who fled the violence due to the ongoing operation by Iraqi forces against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to retake the city of Mosul, walks with a white flag on Nov 3, 2016 as people leave Gogjali, Mosul. PHOTO: AFP

GENEVA (REUTERS) - Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have killed hundreds of people, including 50 deserters and 180 former Iraqi government employees, around their stronghold of Mosul, UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said on Friday (Nov 4).

The 50 were executed for desertion on Monday (Oct 31) at the Ghazlani military base in Mosul, and the 180 died on Wednesday (Nov 2) as ISIS was retreating from Kokjali town, she told a regular UN briefing in Geneva, citing "credible reports" from multiple sources, including from ISIS-occupied areas.

The militants transported 1,600 abducted civilians from the town of Hammam al-Alil to Tal Afar on Tuesday (Nov 1), possibly for use as human shields against air strikes, and told some they may be taken to Syria.

They also took 150 families from Hammam al-Alil to Mosul on Wednesday.

"Also on Wednesday, ISIL reportedly used loudspeakers to order the residents of Lazaghah and Arij villages, about 5km from Hammam al-Alil city centre, to leave their villages or be severely punished," Ms Shamdasani said, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

Militants told residents of Hammam al-Alil that they must hand over their children, especially boys above the age of nine, in an apparent recruitment drive for child soldiers. "They've been knocking on people's doors and asking for their boys," she said, adding that families that did not comply were threatened with severe punishment.

ISIS militants were holding nearly 400 Kurdish, Yazidi and Shi'ite women in Tal Afar, and had possibly killed up to 200 people in Mosul city, she said.

Iraqi special forces recaptured six districts of eastern Mosul on Friday, a military statement said, expanding the army's foothold in the ISIS stronghold a day after its leader told his Islamist followers there could be no retreat.

Ms Shamdasani said the UN had reports of air strikes causing civilian deaths during the battle, including one on Wednesday evening that reportedly killed four women and injured 17 other civilians in the al Qudus neighbourhood in eastern Mosul.

She said she was not aware of any of civilians dying in air strikes while they were being held as human shields.

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