ISIS Holds 100000 'Human Shields' in Mosul's Old City, UN Says

ISIS Holds 100000 'Human Shields' in Mosul's Old City, UN Says

ISIS Holds 100000 'Human Shields' in Mosul's Old City, UN Says

As the Iraqi forces are closing in on ISIS militants in the narrow streets of the old city, civilian death toll is increasing at an alarming rate.

The 39 people from Punjab now trapped in Iraq's war-torn Mosul are presumed to be alive, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), as the Indian government has received no information to the contrary.

Responding to a question on the issue, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said Sushma Swaraj had met representatives and families of these 39 Indians early this month.

The fall of Mosul would effectively mark the end of the Iraqi section of the "caliphate" declared by the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 from an historic mosque in the Old City.

Up to 100,000 civilians in west Mosul are suffering from lack of food, water and fuel as the Iraqi and US-led coalition forces try desperately to free the remaining two districts in the old city from ISIS militants, expected to involve what the United Nations described as "hand by hand, house to house" fighting.

Some 800,000 civilians have fled their homes in Mosul, and Iraqi coalition forces backed by USA airpower took control of the city's eastern district and most of the west.

"More than 100,000 civilians may still be held in the Old City".

US-backed Iraqi forces have been battling fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Mosul since October. There is hardly any food, water, electricity, fuel. "These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City".

"The civilian population is being taken, moved by fighters with them to be used as human shields", he said.

Geddo said those who attempted to leave the city were being shot by snipers deliberately aiming at people trying to flee.

Since the battle to retake Mosul began nine months ago, an estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from the city, although 195,000 have since returned, mainly to the liberated east of the city.

To meet the immediate needs of the displaced, the UN Refugee Agency has built 13 camps so far in the area in northern Iraq, and has assisted more than half a million people. "Many of these people are situations of penury", he warned.

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