The Islamic State (IS) group is using tens of thousands of people as “human shields” in and around Mosul, Iraq, while Iraqi forces are waging a large-scale offensive aimed at retaking the country’s second-largest city, the UN human rights office said on Friday.
The extremist group has massacred perceived opponents on several occasions and is widely believed to be rooting out anyone who could potentially rise up against it, focusing on Iraqis with military training or past links to security forces.
The UN office said civilians from across the region south of Mosul were being herded into Hamam al-Alil, a militant-held town where the population has more than doubled to 60,000 since the forced displacement began.
There, the militants separated former members of the security forces from women and children, and took both groups onward to Mosul. They killed 190 former security forces in a military base on the southern edge of the city and killed 42 civilians at another base for refusing to join the extremists. Another 24 people were reportedly shot dead on Tuesday.
The US military, which is providing airstrikes and ground support for the operation, said it tried to disrupt the forced displacement of civilians south of Mosul earlier this week by striking militant vehicles being used in the forced push.
US Air Force Brigadier General Matthew Isler said the US-led coalition conducted “precision strikes” on vehicles that were unoccupied and far enough away from civilians to avoid harming them.
US military spokesman Colonel John Dorrian later said that US airstrikes had targeted 50 such vehicles, hitting 40 to 45 of them.
The US is providing airstrikes and ground support for the Mosul offensive.
More than 100 US soldiers are embedded with Iraqi units and hundreds more are based in staging areas. A US soldier was killed by a roadside bomb last week.
Isler said Iraqi forces have retaken 40 villages from the IS near Mosul since the operation began, but most of the fighting has taken place in a belt of sparsely-populated farming communities outside the city.
Isler said Iraqi troops were consolidating gains made east and south of the city earlier this week, but insisted “momentum’ was still on their side.
He said the US-led coalition has stepped up airstrikes against the militants and is carrying out three times as many as it did during previous campaigns to drive the IS from other Iraqi cities.
Iraqi forces are within 6km from the edge of Mosul on the eastern front, where the elite special forces are leading the charge.
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
Swedish Member of Parliament Hampus Hagman is pushing for changing the name of the nation’s trade office in Taipei to signal improved relations with “Asia’s perhaps foremost democracy.” Hagman on Wednesday last week proposed renaming the Swedish Trade and Invest Council to “Sweden’s Office in Taipei,” following similar changes by other nations. The Swedish Trade and Invest Council, part of Business Sweden, is owned by the Swedish government and Swedish industry. Taiwan and Sweden share important values such as respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom of speech, Hagman said in the motion, adding that the two nations
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit