The "Islamic State" has abducted thousands of people in the Iraqi city of Mosul and is using them as human shields. The group has also killed 232 people this week as Iraqi troops close in on the city, the UN reports.
The "Islamic State" (IS) "has been forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in some districts around Mosul," UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said at a news briefing in Geneva.
Of those, many have been executed, including civilians who refused to comply with relocation orders and those who had previously worked for the government security services, she added.
The Sunni militants killed 232 people on Wednesday, including 190 former members of Iraq's security forces and 40 civilians, the UN human rights office reported on Friday.
"Many of them who refused to comply were shot on the spot," Shamdasani said, adding that the number of people killed in recent days could get higher as more information becomes available.
The US military reported that Iraqi forces have retaken 40 villages from IS near Mosul since the operation to oust the militants from the city started last week. It is the largest military operation undertaken in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion. Mosul fell to IS in days in the summer of 2014.
Iraqi troops are consolidating gains made east and south of the city earlier this week, US Air Force Brigadier General Matthew C. Isler said on Friday, adding that the US-led coalition has increased airstrikes against IS.
"The time has long been ripe for it, but we are currently concentrating on the fight against IS," Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told Germany's "Bild" newspaper. "As soon as Mosul is liberated, we will meet with our partners in Baghdad and talk about our independence."
Kurdish peshmerga fighters have fought with Iraqi government forces in a joint offensive to retake Mosul.
Barzani estimates that the coalition will need three months to retake the city and has asked for more German weapons to aid his forces.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, without going into detail, said the US-led operation to liberate Mosul from IS in Iraq could have a significant impact on the balance of power in Syria.
jbh/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)