Mosul drone footage reveals that ISIS is using civilians as human shields
The Iraqi Federal Police has published drone footage revealing barbaric treatment of civilians at the hands of ISIS in Mosul.
The video was published on 29 March in what is described as the Iraqi police Facebook account. The recording appears to show a jihadist forcing a child to cross the street with him, effectively serving as a human shield, although the footage description cannot be independently confirmed.
Despite having the fighter in target, the police stated in the video description they did not shoot for fear of injuring the child.
The video release follows a UN appeal to avoid civilian casualties, in the aftermath of a bombing that is thought to have killed more than 200 civilians in west Mosul on 17 March.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein intimated US and Iraqi forces to do everything possible avoid hitting civilians deliberately put at risk by IS fighters.
The UN reported at least 307 civilians were killed and 273 wounded in western Mosul in the month between 17 February and 22 March, as the jihadists herd people into booby-trapped buildings to serve as human shields and fire on those who flee.
“The conduct of air strikes on ISIL (Islamic State) locations in such an environment, particularly given the clear indications that ISIL is using large numbers of civilians as human shields at such locations, may potentially have a lethal and disproportionate impact on civilians,” Zeid said, quoted in Reuters.
Human rights group Amnesty International carried out field investigations in Mosul, discovering that Iraqi authorities intimated local residents to remain at home rather than fleeing the area targeted in the airstrike. “Coalition forces leading the offensive in Mosul have failed to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International Senior Crisis Response Adviser.
Civilians interviewed by the organisation also confirmed that Isis fighters used residents as human shields were targeted in the air strikes. “[IS militants] were everywhere and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. If you challenged them they would kill you” Mohammed, a resident of the Hay al-Dhubbat district of East Mosul, told Amnesty International. He lost several relatives in a coalition air strike.
“I do agree that as we move into these urban environments, it is going to become more and more difficult to apply extraordinarily high standards for the things that we’re doing, although we will try,” Votel said at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
Votel also revealed the number of casualties among the Iraqi forces fighting Isis in Mosul, an information that the Iraqi army does not usually discuss. According to the US officer, at least 4,600 Iraqi soldiers were injured and 774 have died in Mosul so far, 490 in the eastern half of the city, which was declared liberated in January, three months since the start of the offensive, and 284 in the ongoing operation in West Mosul launched on 19 February.