Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants killed 64 civilians, including women and children, while trying to flee battles between the group and Iraqi security forces in western Mosul to the eastern side, a human rights monitor said.
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights said the civilians were trying to cross the Tigris River, which bisects the city, on Thursday morning to the eastern side which Iraqi forces took over in January, but were shot dead by IS snipers.
Some others were captured by the militants, according to the organization, which quoted some survivors who made it to the Sallamiya district in the east. They said more than 40 families were trying to cross the river, but 64 dead bodies were washed ashore.
The observatory quoted a security source in Sallamiya that the corpses bore signs of gunshots, and that he was predicting more dead bodies to resurface.
Earlier on Sunday, BasNews quoted Ahmed al-Obaidi, a Federal Police Captain, saying that IS militants had shot dead 16 Iraqi women who were trying to flee al-Rifaie district in western Mosul, adding that 30 other families in the same district.
Iraqi government and United Nations counts put the number of Iraqis displaced since the launch of the offensive to retake Mosul from IS in October 2016 at at least 600.000. Nineveh municipal officials say there are 600.000 others who fled to relatives or rented residences and therefore had not been registered.
Islamic State has faced accusations by U.N., Iraqi government and aid agencies of using civilians as human shields. Anxiousness for civilians’ lives had been a major reason behind occasional slowdowns of security operations, but dozens have, however, been killed in operations by Iraqi forces and the allied U.S.-led coalition.
Iraqi commanders have said they predict Mosul to be fully liberated from militants before the holy month of Ramadan, which starts May 27th, and said they control 90 percent of the western side of the city.