Spike in murder of Mosul civilians at hands of ISIL

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A child stands barefoot alongside other children, after they fled with their families from fighting between ISF and ISIL in an area west of Mosul, Iraq. Many of those fleeing are using the cover of night to evade ISIL snipers. Photo: UNICEF/Romenzi

ISIL's slaughter of civilians trapped in the Iraqi city of Mosul has seen a "significant escalation" in recent days, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, warned on Thursday.

Citing credible reports, the agency said that the extremists murdered "at least 204" victims last week alone, as the Iraqi military campaign to retake the northern city continues.

OHCHR says it is also seeking further information about airstrikes which reportedly caused dozens of civilian deaths.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, has already documented how ISIL fighters have used civilians as human shields and killed those trying to flee since Iraqi security forces began their assault on Mosul last October.

What is new is that that the slaughter is getting worse.

More than 200 people were murdered over a three-day period last week, says OHCHR's Ravina Shamdasani:

"There are entire families among these victims, including children. Now, we don't have clear figures on how many children but we know at least 20 children were among these people who were killed. And as the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has said, at this point, we're at a loss for words. Shooting children as they try to run to safety with their families: really, there are no words of condemnation strong enough. Clearly these amount to war crimes."

The bulk of the recent killings were in al-Shifa neighbourhood in western Mosul, according to the UN human rights office.

It reports how ISIL shot men, women and children fleeing clashes between the militants and the Iraqi security forces, near a soft-drinks factory.

In a call to refrain from reprisal attacks, OHCHR also urged Iraqi military leaders to take all measures to avoid the loss of civilian life.

The appeal comes amid reports that airstrikes including one in Zanjilly in Western Mosul in recent days left at least 50 dead.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’23″

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