ISIS forces use minors as human shields in west Mosul

Some children are also being used as human shields, while some are forced to fight on behalf of the jihadists, the global body said.

"We are receiving alarming reports of civilians including several children being killed in west Mosul", UNICEF said in a statement, which did not say specifically how many children had died.

A Reuters TV crew on Saturday saw the bodies of dozens of civilians, including children, lying in a frontline street, apparently killed while fleeing the enclave.

An worldwide human rights group reported on Monday that at least 26 bodies of "blindfolded and handcuffed" men were found in government-controlled areas and around Mosul since the operation started.

Local armed forces told foreign journalists that 15 men were extrajudicially killed by government forces who were holding them on suspicion of being affiliated with ISIL, the rights group said.

About 700,000 people have already fled Mosul, but up to 200,000 civilians are still trapped in harrowing conditions in the city's Daesh-controlled areas.

The operations near the Syrian border came as Iraqi security forces, backed by the anti-IS global coalition, were simultaneously conducting a major offensive to dislodge IS militants from their major stronghold in western Mosul.

Backed by the US-led global coalition, Iraq last October launched a wide-scale military offensive to recapture Mosul and the surrounding areas, with various Iraqi military, police and paramilitary forces taking part in the operation.

After the successful campaign to liberate eastern Mosul ended in January, Iraqi security forces launched a fresh offensive to free the western parts of the city.

ISIS members with prisoners in Mosul, Iraq.

The United Nations on Tuesday said Islamic State (IS) militants killed over 160 people in Mosul last week to prevent them from escaping insurgent-held areas.

Information for this article was contributed by Bassem Mroue of The Associated Press.

  • Leroy Wright