(CNN) — ISIS has “executed” 232 people near Mosul and taken tens of thousands of people to use as human shields against advancing Iraqi forces, the UN says.
A spokeswoman for the UN’s human rights arm told CNN that the terror group had carried out the mass killings on Wednesday, punishing people who had defied its orders.
“On Wednesday ISIS executed 42 civilians in Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul. Also on Wednesday ISIS executed 190 former Iraqi Security Forces for refusing to join them, in the Al Ghazlani base near Mosul,” said Ravina Shamdasani, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Since October 17, ISIS has taken “tens of thousands” of men, women and children from the outskirts of Mosul into the city. Shamdasani said the UN feared the intention was “to use them as human shields against the Iraqi forces advance on Mosul.”
There have been other reports over the past week of civilians being murdered as ISIS tries to herd people into its last stronghold in Iraq.
Iraqi Security Forces reported further progress Friday in their advance from the south of Mosul, the country’s second city.
Abdulrahman al Wagga, a member of Nineveh provincial council, told CNN that the security forces had taken the town of al Shura, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Mosul and had evacuated 5,000 to 6,000 civilians from there.
The area was now being cleared of homemade bombs and booby traps, he said.
Iraqi Security Forces and federal police have also now “90% surrounded Hammam al-Alil,” the largest town south of Mosul, al Wagga said.
‘Scorched earth’ policy
Al Wagga said Iraqi security forces might storm Hammam al-Alil in the next few hours but that it would depend on the situation on the ground, as civilians were still present.
ISIS militants were using a “scorched earth” policy by destroying houses, buildings and bridges to slow down the advancing Iraqi security forces, he said.
The US and its allies have killed between 800 and 900 ISIS fighters in the operation to retake Mosul, US Army Gen. Joseph Votel said Thursday.
US military officials estimate that there are 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters defending the last major stronghold of the terror group in Iraq, and an additional 1,500 to 2,000 ISIS soldiers in a zone outside the city.