Human Rights Watch says the ISIS terrorists in Mosul are deliberating targeting the civilians who decline to join their ranks as Iraqi armed forces are making headway during an operation to liberate the northern city.
The New York-based international rights group said in a Wednesday report that an increasing proportion of Mosul residents is getting caught in the exchange of gunfire between government forces and Daesh terrorists.
ISIS is indiscriminately or deliberately killing and wounding people for refusing to be human shields, said the report, which is based on interviews with fleeing residents of Mosul.
It added that 19 people lost their lives and dozens more sustained injuries between the third week of November and the first week of the current month during the fighting, adding that the deaths were mainly caused by Daesh snipers as well as militant mortar attacks, car bombs and roadside bombings.
One of the witnesses, identified as Ammar told Human Rights Watch that Daesh terrorists began rounding up civilians to retreat with them before the army entered Mosul's east, but many of them refused to help the militants.
They were coming door-to-door, saying, 'Do you want to leave with us or not?' said Ammar, who fled the eastern Mosul neighborhood of Intisar after being wounded in a Daesh mortar strike on December 5.
We said we would not go with them and they said,'Whatever happens to you guys, you deserve it,' he added.
Mosul battle underway
The statement came a day after the media center of Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Shaabi, said Iraqi army and federal police forces had launched a barrage of artillery shells into Ghazlani military base, which lies near Mosul, in preparation to storm the site and regain its control.
Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir YarallahLieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah, also said Iraqi forces are clearing roads and buildings in liberated areas of explosive devices and abandoned ordnance.
Meanwhile, Chief Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat, commander of Iraqi Federal Police Forces, wrote on his Facebook page that security forces have destroyed two vehicles rigged with explosives on the outskirts of Abu Seif village south of Mosul.
On October 17, Iraqi army soldiers, supported by fighters from Hashd al-Shaabi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, launched a joint operation to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
The Iraqi forces' advance has, however, been slowed down due to the presence of hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of whom are prevented from leaving Mosul by ISIS.
The International Organization for Migration said on Sunday that 103,872 people have been displaced ever since Mosul liberation operations got underway in mid-October.
Jassem Mohammed al-Jaff, the Iraqi minister for displacement and migration, had earlier put the number at 118,000, Press TV reported.
Source: Al Alam