The U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces and their allies fighting to retake Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) have executed up to 900 terrorists since the offensive started more than a week ago.
The Islamic State has also retaliated, however, killing 232 civilians near the city in just one day and using thousands of other civilians as human shields, according to the United Nations and a top U.S. general.
On Wednesday, ISIS carried out mass killings, targeting civilians who had defied its commands, CNN learned from Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
“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,” she revealed.
The UN human rights arm noted that an additional 24 former Iraqi security forces were reportedly killed on Tuesday, for a total of at least 256 civilians executed by ISIS in just two days.
“Since October 17, ISIS has taken tens of thousands of men, women and children from the outskirts of Mosul into the city,” points out CNN.
The network learned from Shamdasani that the UN feared the jihadist intended “to use them as human shields against the Iraqi forces advance on Mosul.”
Citing credible reports, the UN human rights office revealed Friday that ISIS “has been forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in sub-districts around Mosul, including nearly 8,000 families the group abducted, since the operations to restore Iraqi Government control over Mosul began on 17 October.”
On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, told Pentagon reporters, that over the course of the ongoing Mosul offensive, ISIS has lost “hundreds” of fighters.
“The coalition has delivered more than 2,100 aerial bombs, artillery and mortar shells, HIMARS rockets and Hellfire missiles since the Iraqis started operations to liberate Mosul on October 17th,” he said.
“This relentless campaign of strikes has removed hundreds of fighters, weapons, and key leaders from the battlefield in front of the Iraqi advance,” he added, without providing a specific number for the ISIS fatalities.
However, the following day, Gen. Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), told Agence France-Presse (AFP), “Just in the operations over the last week and a half associated with Mosul, we estimate they’ve probably killed about 800-900 Islamic State fighters.”
CENTCOM is in charge of U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
A 30,000-strong force, backed by the U.S. military and made up of Iraqi security forces personnel, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen are fighting up to up to 5,000 ISIS jihadists who are believed to be defending Mosul.
More than 5,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq, the majority of whom are backing the ongoing operation directly or indirectly, according to the Pentagon.
When the Mosul offensive began on October 17, the Iraqi army estimated that the ISIS defending force included up to 6,000 terrorists. An estimated 1.5 million were believed to be residing in the city, Iraq’s second-largest and ISIS’s last urban stronghold in Iraq, at that time.
“The Iraqi government informed US commanders on Wednesday that 57 Iraqi soldiers had been killed and about 250 wounded,” reports BBC. “Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are thought to have suffered about 20 to 30 fatalities.”
The United States military suffered one fatality soon after the offensive began.