25 civilians killed by IS in Mosul “safe passageways”: observatory

Security forces evacuate the civilians from liberated areas. Archival photo.

Mosul ( Civilians who attempted escaping from Islamic State-held regions before and during battles between Iraqi troops and IS militants cannot find safe passageways as they always face attacks by the IS militants, according to the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR)

At least 25 civilians have been killed since beginning of April on Abu Zaayan street, which is considered as one of the “safe routes” opened by Iraqi troops, IOHR said in a report on Sunday.

The report quoted Abu Omar al-Hayali, a displaced resident from western Mosul who took to Abu Zaayan street, along with his and other families, to escape toward the troops, as saying “once we attempted escaping the IS-held regions, the snipers started targeting civilians.”

“I saw a man and a woman in their twenties as they were shot dead by a sniper,” he said. “My family and I took shelter for twenty minutes behind a concrete wall to hide from the sniper. We were then able to pass the dangerous area with the help of Iraqi troops.”

A journalist from Mosul, identifying himself with the pen-name Safaa Omar, told IOHR that the “safe passageways, that are still exposed to IS fires, are Nineveh public hospital route on al-Mahatta street and abu Zaayan street.”

Meanwhile IOHR said that “Iraqi security troops make huge efforts to help civilians escape the battlefields, but they face the IS snipers. The troops assist dozens of families daily to reach safe places, however, some get killed or injured by bombs, mortar missiles or snipers.”

A medical source, who offer urgent treatment for families displaced from the western side, said “treatment is offered daily to more than fifty wounded persons who were injured during the displacement.”

“The children are the highest category with injuries. The escaping families are not aware of the routes they should take as all of them are targeted,” the source added.

Hakam Khaled, an activist from Mosul, said “a child called Ali Omar, 10, was escaping along with his family from Mosul al-Jadida when a booby-trapped vehicle exploded. Six members of his family were killed. Still alive, his left leg was amputated. He is now at West Erbil hospital.”

A worker from West Erbil hospital said “the hospital received hundreds of injured civilians over the past few weeks. Some of them lost their limbs or were severely injured during the displacement. There were also number of victims killed by IS members.”

The “safe passageways” opened by Iraqi troops, according to IOHR, should be completely safe and protected.

The observatory also urged the Iraqi government to pay more attention toward safety of the civilians to prevent further loss of victims.

Around 300,000 besieged civilians live at IS-held regions in Mosul, where battles between the militants and Iraqi troops backed by the U.S.-led coalition are ongoing.

430,000 civilians were displaced due to ongoing battles between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Mosul since they broke out in October, the Iraqi government declared on last week.

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