ISIS executes scores, stockpiles chemicals ahead of Iraqi military push in Mosul

Iraqi troops had found large stockpiles of sulfur and there were credible reports that Islamic State had used "phosphor projectiles" over Qayyara, close to Mosul.

By REUTERS
November 11, 2016 16:03
2 minute read.
IRAQI FORCES advance in Qayara to attack Islamic State in Mosul yesterday.

IRAQI FORCES advance in Qayara to attack Islamic State in Mosul. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Islamic State fighters have executed scores more people around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul this week and are reported to be stockpiling dangerous chemicals in civilian areas, the UN human rights office said on Friday.

A mass grave with over 100 bodies found in the town of Hammam al-Alil was one of several Islamic State killing grounds, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said. She cited testimony gleaned from sources including a man who had survived an execution of some 50 former Iraqi soldiers by playing dead.

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"Clearly there are many other killing fields. We also have reports of other mass graves which we haven't yet been able to verify," Shamdasani told reporters, mentioning sites at Mosul airport and the village of Tal al-Thahab.

Iraqi troops had found large stockpiles of sulfur and there were credible reports that Islamic State had used "phosphor projectiles" over Qayyara, close to Mosul, Shamdasani said.

"Similar credible reports in Mosul state that they have placed sulfur pits in close proximity to civilians," she said.

The UN's sources of information include people living in IS-held areas who risk their lives to speak out.

"We get so much information," Shamdasani said, without going into details. "We've been in Iraq a very long time."

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Shamdasani said 40 civilians were reportedly shot on Tuesday for "treason and collaboration" with Iraqi government forces, and their bodies hung from electrical poles around Mosul.

Meanwhile, Iraqi special forces said they pushed deeper into Mosul on Friday despite heavy resistance from Islamic State militants using civilians as cover, and were holding half a dozen city neighborhoods seized in the last 10 days.

The elite Counter Terrorism Service troops broke through Islamic State defense lines to enter the city early last week and have since been embroiled in a brutal, close-quarter combat with waves of suicide bombers and snipers.

The special forces are the spearhead of a wider coalition of 100,000 fighters seeking to crush a few thousand Islamic State jihadists who have ruled Mosul, the biggest city of their cross-border "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, for the last two years.

The campaign, nearly four weeks old, is the most complex military operation in Iraq in the 13 years of turmoil since the US invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Security forces and army infantry divisions, backed by a US-led air force, are preparing to move on southern and northern districts of Mosul in coming days, to step up pressure on the militants.

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