The U.N. human rights office says atrocities against civilians in Mosul by Islamic State militants reportedly are increasing as Iraqi soldiers close in on the embattled northern Iraqi city.
The U.N. human rights office says it is receiving disturbing reports of the extra judicial and summary execution of children and women, as well as male civilians in Mosul. It says it also has received reports of Islamic State militants deliberately using civilians as human shields to prevent them from leaving the city.
U.N. Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville says it is difficult to verify the reports because they are still being vetted by U.N. monitors. But he says the breadth of cruelty that emerges from the preliminary reports is staggering.
Internally displaced persons stand at a checkpoint as an Iraqi army convoy passes by in Qayyarah, about 31 miles (50 km) south of Mosul, Iraq, Oct. 23, 2016.
For example, he says U.N. staff in Iraq has received reports that IS, also known as ISIL, killed 15 civilians in a village near Mosul and threw their bodies into a river, so as to spread terror among other residents.
“On the afternoon of 19th of October, that is last Wednesday, in the same village, ISIL reportedly tied six civilians to a vehicle by their hands and dragged them around the village, apparently simply because they were related to a particular tribal leader who was fighting against ISIL alongside the Iraqi Government forces,” said Colville. "The six men were also allegedly beaten with sticks and gun butts and it is not clear what happened to them subsequently.”
Displaced people who are fleeing from clashes arrive in Qayyarah, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq on Oct. 19, 2016.
Colville says his office has reports of the killings of nearly 80 other civilians and 50 former Iraqi police officers by IS in the following four days. One victim, he says, was a disabled child who was lagging behind a group of civilians being forcibly removed from a village outside Mosul.
“We very much fear that these will not be the last such reports we receive of such barbaric acts by ISIL, and repeat our call on government forces and their allies to ensure their fighters do not take revenge on any of the civilians who escape from areas under ISIL control and that they treat all suspected ISIL fighters they capture in accordance with international humanitarian law,” said Colville.
Colville says his office is very concerned by severe measures being taken by authorities in Kirkuk in northern Iraq against internally displaced people. He says the Kurdish Security Forces have been evicting hundreds of families from their places of residence, apparently in retaliation for a surprise IS attack last week on Kirkuk.