(AFP) – The Islamic State group is forcibly gathering people in and around Mosul for possible use as human shields against advancing Iraqi forces, residents said Wednesday, confirming UN fears.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant ground, and Mosul is the last Iraqi city still held by the jihadists.
Iraq launched a massive operation to retake Mosul from the extremists a little more than two weeks ago, and its forces have reached the eastern outskirts of the city.
The United Nations has cited reports of IS kidnapping thousands of people for use as human shields, and also of the jihadists executing nearly 300 people in the Mosul area since October 25.
One resident of east Mosul said the IS jihadists had “demanded that people, especially young people, gather in the area’s schools, and that they bring their identity papers with them.”