UN believes up to 150,000 civilians trapped in Mosul
June 17, 2017
ISIL is preventing civilians fleeing and plans to use them as human shields ahead of final battle for Old City, UN says.
Residents who fled their homes near the Old City in western Mosul [Erik De Castro/Reuters]
The United Nations believes up to 150,000 civilians are still trapped in harrowing conditions in Mosul’s Old City, where ISIL fighters battling advancing Iraqi forces are shooting at anyone trying to flee as part of a tactic to keep them as human shields.
The UN’s humanitarian chief Lise Grande said in an interview on Friday with The Associated Press that the global body expects the final battle for the Old City to start “within days”. She said conditions there “are desperate” and the UN expects almost all civilians to try to escape.
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. ISIL now control only a handful of neighbourhoods in and around the Old City.
Grande said there have been more than 7,000 gunshot wounds of people trying to leave districts still controlled by ISIL.
“The reason we know that they’re being shot at by snipers and not crossfire is because they’re being shot in the back,” she said.