ISIS has abducted “tens of thousands” of men, women and children from areas around the Iraqi city of Mosul and is using them as human shields as Iraqi government troops advance, the U.N. rights office said on Friday.
The militants killed at least 232 people on Wednesday, including 190 former Iraqi security forces (ISF) and 42 civilians who refused to obey their orders, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.
Credible reports suggest that ISIS “has been forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in sub-districts around Mosul and has forcibly relocated numbers of civilians inside the city itself since the operation began on the 17th of October to restore Iraqi government control over Mosul,” Shamdasani told a briefing in Geneva.
Nearly 8,000 families, of roughly six people each, were abducted in sub-districts including Shura, she said.
The terrorist group’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, effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields,” Shamdasani said.
“Many of those who refused to comply were shot on the spot,” the spokesperson told reporters.
The reports, corroborated by the U.N., were “by no means comprehensive but indicative of violations”, she added.
She stressed that the number of people killed in recent days could be higher.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has voiced deep concern at reports that some individuals in the areas south of Mosul have “embarked on revenge killings and have vowed on television that there would be ‘eye-for-eye’ revenge against those who sided with ISIS,” Shamdasani said.
Some villagers have also been prevented from returning to their villages due to their perceived support of the terrorist group, she added.