UN: ISIL targets children of families fleeing Mosul

ISIL fighters are targeting children in Mosul to prevent civilians from fleeing the city as Iraqi forces push into the armed group’s last stronghold, the United Nations said Thursday.

The UN children’s agency said it has documented a number of cases in which ISIL fighters killed the children of families trying to escape from neighbourhoods it controlled.

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“They are using children as a weapon of war to prevent people from fleeing,” said UNICEF’s Iraq representative Peter Hawkins. “This just highlights how indiscriminate and catastrophic this war is.”

Iraqi troops are slowly clearing the last pockets of ISIL fighters from Mosul’s Old City in an operation launched earlier this week. But an estimated 100,000 civilians – of whom half are children – packed into the dense terrain have slowed progress.

More than five million children are in urgent need of aid in Iraq, UNICEF said.

“Across Iraq, children continue to witness sheer horror and unimaginable violence,” it said in a statement. “They have been killed, injured, abducted, and forced to shoot and kill in one of the most brutal wars in recent history.”

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