Iraq News

ISIL abuses on the rise as fear of defeat in Mosul grows

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad

Iraqis who have fled Mosul receive shelter kits and aid during their forced displacement. [Photo courtesy of the UN mission in Iraq]

Iraqis who have fled Mosul receive shelter kits and aid during their forced displacement. [Photo courtesy of the UN mission in Iraq]

The "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) has been carrying out appalling abuses against unarmed civilians in Mosul, officials tell Diyaruna, executing hundreds and using others as human shields against advancing Iraqi forces.

Ever since the military operation to liberate Mosul began on October 17th, the group "has started acting hysterically and threatening to hurt the innocent civilians still under its control", said Ninawa tribal mobilisation leader Sheikh Khalid al-Sabah al-Jubury.

"Reliable information from within Mosul indicates that the group in the first days of the offensive carried out random arrests on a large scale in southern Mosul neighbourhoods and the areas of Wadi Hajar and Nimrud," he told Diyaruna.

The fate or whereabouts of those who have been arrested remain unknown, he said.

"Local residents are living in fear and nobody knows why they are arrested or made to disappear, or what they have done wrong," he said.

"Everyone is a target of ISIL, with no difference between the members of one tribe and another, or between different ethnic groups," al-Jubury said.

"They [ISIL] are the enemies of all of humanity," he added.

Mass executions

"The fate of most of those who were abducted [by ISIL] in recent days is unknown," said al-Jubury, except for those arrested in areas near the city of Hamam al-Alil south-east of Mosul.

Those people were taken to an old Iraqi army camp and killed execution style in a shooting range, he said. "Their only sin was that they used to be members of the Iraqi police."

On October 28th, the UN human rights office said ISIL had reportedly shot dead 232 people in a single day on October 26th and killed another 24 the previous day .

The UN said the execution-style killings came as ISIL pushed forward with a strategy of forcing people living outside Mosul into the city.

ISIL "has been forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in some districts around Mosul", it said.

Those executed included civilians who have refused to comply with the relocation orders and those who previously worked for the government security services.

Iraqi MP for Ninawa province Abdul Rahman al-Shammari said that about 190 people were recently taken from villages near Hamam al-Alil and executed by ISIL.

"The group executed them even though they had already stated their repentance ... and surrendered their weapons a long time ago," he told Diyaruna.

"Further executions took place in the nearby area of Areej in that same period, in which 42 young men were killed, also former police members or their relatives," he said.

ISIL using civilians as human shields

In addition to arrests, executions and forced disappearance, abuses also include holding citizens hostage, including women and children, to be used as human shields , Ninawa provincial council member Daoud Jundi told Diyaruna.

ISIL fighters take hundreds of families with them when they withdraw from any village or area, he said.

It is a tactic to protect themselves from Iraqi army strikes by cowering behind civilians, he added.

"Iraqi forces have a more difficult task now and they must exercise caution when attacking the enemy," Jundi said.

ISIL's "barbaric approach" stems from its fear of a massive popular rebellion that could overthrow it before the army reaches the centre of Mosul, he said.

"They intimidate civilians with killings and arrests to send a message that they are able to quell any possible rebellion against them in the city," he said.

"They are very confused and frightened," he said, stressing the need now more than ever to protect civilians against ISIL's abuses.

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