Iraqi firefighters look for bodies buried under the rubble, of civilians who were killed after an air strike against Islamic State triggered a massive explosion in Mosul. REUTERS/Stringer
Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants executed tens of civilians who tried to flee their grip on Wednesday, while security strikes killed 16 others, according to local residents who spoke as operations against the militant group approach final stages.
Shafaaq News website quoted locals saying Islamic State militants had executed seven members of the same family earlier on Wednesday. They were attempting to flee their home in Mashahda region towards areas held by Iraqi security troops, the sources said.
Alforat.info quoted Cap. Mohamed al-Jeheishi, from Nineveh police, saying intelligence information revealed that 47 people, mainly women, children and elders, were caught by the group trying to flee al-Shefa district towards security-controlled areas before they were executed at Dourat Qassem.
It is not clear whether both incidents were related.
Meanwhile, Shafaaq News quoted local sources saying that more than 16 other civilians died as Iraqi forces continued to bombard Zanjili district with mortars and warplane fires.
News about IS executing civilians fo escaping their domains or collaborating with security forces have been recurrent since the government, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, launched a major offensive in October to retake Mosul from the group.
Hundreds of civilian deaths have also been blamed on Iraqi forces and coalition fighter jets. While the Iraqi government consistently denies causing civilian casualties, coalition commanders admitted recently they were behind dozens of deaths during the Mosul campaign.
Iraqi government troops regained control over eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting. Operations for the western side of the city launched in mid February, and Iraqi generals say a few hundreds of IS fighters remain in the Old City as a last refuge.
The densely populated and narrowly structured Old City was the place where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq in 2014.
Iraqi forces began late April to advance towards the enclave from the northwest, having besieged it from the south for weeks to no avail.
At least 200.000 civilians are believed to remain in IS captivity in that area.