The "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) on Saturday (June 3rd) slaughtered dozens of civilians as they fled areas under its control in western Mosul, Iraqi officials told Diyaruna.
As families attempted to flee al-Zanjili neighbourhood, ISIS gunmen opened fire on them in an incident Ninawa provincial council member Banyan al-Jarba described as "horrible carnage".
"Gunmen targeted every family trying to flee their home in combat areas towards the security forces," he told Diyaruna.
Between the hours of 3 a.m., when the first shots rang out, and 10 a.m., when the weapons were finally silenced, ISIS fighters targeted escaping civilians with sniper weapons, machine guns and hand grenades, al-Jarba said.
"At least 250 civilians, including women, children and old people, were killed in these attacks. The number may still rise," he said.
"Bodies of many victims are still lying on roads and between alleys."
A sign of desperation
"The group started to lose its mind as the area under its control shrank and as it lost all of its capabilities and supplies," al-Jarba said.
"The carnage is a clear warning," he added, pointing out that "ISIS is betting on the lives of people to maintain whatever influence it still has".
"It has used them as human shields, and is now killing them en masse."
"The liberating forces are advancing in the Old City, ISIS's last stronghold in Mosul, and the battle will likely be resolved once and for all within days," he said. "However, we should be careful lest ISIS commit more heinous crimes against residents in revenge of its defeats."
Iraqi forces have completely cleared al-Shefaa and al-Seha neighbourhoods of landmines and ISIS remnants, and are now in control of 65% of al-Zanjili, Joint Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasul told Diyaruna on Monday.
Through loudspeakers, ISIS has ordered residents in al-Zanjili to stay at home, threatening to kill families who try to flee. Meanwhile, its snipers have been targeting those who attempt to escape.
"ISIS is drawing its last breath, and therefore, wants to force residents to stay in order to delay the liberation as much as possible," said Ninawa provincial council member Abdul Rahman al-Wakaa.
"This is not the first time that terrorists targeted the fleeing families, but not in this big number," he said, describing the al-Zanjili incident as "genocide".
"ISIS used to kill individuals who tried to flee, but is now killing them en masse because it is desperate," he said.