Geneva/ Cairo: Some 163 people were killed by IS extremists in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul in a single day last week, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Tuesday. The extremists shot the people dead on Thursday to prevent them from fleeing, according to Zeid, the UN high commissioner for human rights. “Yesterday, my staff reported to me that bodies of murdered Iraqi men, women and children are still lying on the streets of the Al Shira neighbourhood of western Mosul,” Zeid told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
In addition to the deaths, people are still missing in this neighbourhood in Mosul, the last key urban stronghold of IS in Iraq.
In February, Iraqi forces started an onslaught to wrest back the western section of Mosul from IS almost a month after they recaptured the eastern part of the city.
The US-backed campaign has been slowed down by IS use of car bombs and sniper fire in the densely-populated city.
Iraqi officials say IS’s control of western Mosul is now confined to three neighbourhoods, including the Old City noted for its narrow streets.
Government forces, backed by shelling and air coverage, are pushing deep into the district of Zanjili, one of the remaining areas in western Mosul under IS control, chief of the militarised federal police, Raed Chaker, said.
He added late on Monday that the forces were heading towards the nearby neighbourhood of Shifa to drive out militants.
“Operations are meanwhile continuing to evacuate people fleeing the areas of clashes. They are taken to camps for the displaced,” he said, according to independent Iraqi portal Alsumaria News, without details.
IS seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in mid-2014.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition against IS said on Tuesday the fight for the Syrian city of Raqqa would be “long and difficult” but would deliver a “decisive blow to the idea of ISIS as a physical caliphate”.
“It’s hard to convince new recruits that ISIS is a winning cause when they just lost their twin ‘capitals’ in both Iraq and Syria,” a coalition statement cited Lt Gen Steve Townsend, the coalition commanding general, as saying. — Agencies