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Growing fears for civilians in Mosul as net closes around ISIL

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By Seamus Kearney
Growing fears for civilians in Mosul as net closes around ISIL

Mosul in Iraq is the last major bastion of ISIL militants and there is concern for the fate of the 1.5 million residents who still live there, caught up in the recent fierce battles between Iraqi forces and militants.

Iraqi officials have also voiced increasing concern that ISIL is using civilians as human shields as soldiers attempt to recapture the city from the control of militants.

Thousands of people have been displaced.

One man who fled with his family told reporters: “When Daesh (ISIL) was there it was bad. We were imprisoned, it was hell. There was no food, no water, no aid, nothing. But now things are better, thank God.”

Many people are desperately attempting to flee ISIL-controlled areas.

Villagers and UN officials say civilians have been forced to walk alongside retreating militants to try to avoid becoming targets.

At a government camp for displaced people, Shura resident Adnan Shdash said: “We had to go through three villages to get here. Look there are children, old people, sick people. It’s miserable, but we can complain only to God.”

UN human rights workers say dozens of former soldiers have been killed by ISIL and the militants have attempted to transport scores of civilians on trucks and minibuses away from a town south of Mosul.