ISIL abducted thousands of families to use as human shields in Mosul. Those who refused were shot

ISIL has tens of thousands of men, women and children from around Mosul to use as in the imminent battle for the city, the UN said Friday.

The forced more than 8,000 families from their homes before marching them into second city.

“ISIL’s depraved, cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilian hostages to render certain points, areas or forces immune from operations,” said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesman for the UN rights office. Those who the orders were shot on the spot. The international body reported that 232 people, including 190 former members of Iraq’s security services, were killed on Wednesday, with 24 shot on Tuesday.

It is believed the families are now being held in buildings around ISIL’s central military institutions, making it more difficult for coalition planes to target the .

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images militants post with the ISIL flag after allegedly seizing an Iraqi army checkpoint in 2014

“ISIL took all of us from our homes at gunpoint and told us they were taking us with them to Mosul,” one resident told AP news agency. “They said if you don’t come with us you’re an unbeliever.” His family only managed to escape when U.S .airstrikes caused the fighters to scatter during the 25-mile forced walk from their hometown of al-Shura.

ISIL has stopped civilians leaving Mosul, booby trapping the roads out and threatening anyone caught trying to escape with execution.

The offensive to the city — which fell to Isil in a matter of days in the summer of 2014 — is the military operation in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Some 90,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have faced stiff resistance from the jihadists, who are using snipers, car bombs and suicide attacks to defend the surrounding area.

Mosul is the largest city still under ISIL’s control and it is expected to throw everything into the battle, including homemade chemical weapons, tunnels filled with burning oil and IEDs.

Somewhere between 800-900 jihadists have been killed since the operation to liberate Mosul began last Monday, U.S. officials confirmed, and they estimate around 4,000-5,000 more are holed up inside the city.

Iraqi special forces are now within three miles of Mosul to the east, but they must hold their position until troops to the west and south catch up.

More than 15,000 civilians who have fled ISIL territory in the last two weeks are living in camps dotted around the city. As many as one million residents remain trapped and aid agencies warn of a humanitarian catastrophe when they stream out. The UN is building new camps to try to accommodate them.

The operation to retake the whole of the northern Iraq city is expected to take weeks, if not months.

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