ARLINGTON, Va. — The spokesman for U.S. operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria said that the coalition was able to strike an assembled vehicle convoy that the terrorists were about to use to move kidnapped human shields.
The news comes amid reports of chaotic mass roundups of civilians by the terror group in farming communities south of Mosul as ISIS fighters under attack try to increase civilian casualties while protecting their positions.
“We have seen many instances in the past where Daesh have used human shields in order to try and facilitate their escape. Right now they’re using human shields to make the Iraqi Security Forces’ advance more difficult,” Col. John Dorrian, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, told reporters via videoconference from Baghdad.
“We don’t have quite as specific information as I’ve seen in some of the news reports today, but we did expect them to do some of this type of taking of human shields because they’ve done it in previous liberation battles, most recently in — I guess most famously in Manbij, where they kidnapped, you know, up to a couple of thousand people in their escape convoy,” he said.
“So this is something that we’ve seen. We did expect them to do some of this.”
Dorrian said that “as they fall back into the city, apparently they are taking some of the local residents as human shields.”
“So this is something we try to stop when we can, or put a stop to it,” he added. “I am aware of one incident in which Daesh had gathered a large number of vehicles to try and transport some of the civilians back with them. We were able to attack those vehicles before they could take the civilians.”
The spokesman said ISIS “had massed about 50 vehicles and the strike was able to take out 40 to 45 of them — so it’s a pretty significant strike.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said today that ISIS “has been forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes in sub-districts around Mosul and has been forcibly relocating civilians inside the city itself” since the Mosul offensive began Oct. 17.
Civilians who refuse to go are being killed. ISIS shot to death 232 civilians on Wednesday; of those, 190 were former Iraqi Security Forces personnel who were pulled away from their families to be executed, and 42 people were shot in the head for refusing to join ISIS.
At least 5,370 families were abducted from Shura sub-district, 160 families from al-Qayyarah sub-district, 150 families from Hamam al-Alil sub-district and 2,210 families from Nimrud sub-district of al-Hamdaniya district, the UN office said reports indicate. In ISIS-controlled Hamam al-Alil, the previous population of 23,000 has ballooned to 60,000 due to forced human shield relocations.
Dorrian said the U.S. hasn’t seen “the very large numbers that we’ve seen in some of the reports, but we are comparing the things that we’ve seen from talking to sources on the ground, SIGINT and other intelligent sources, and just deconflicting those to determine the size and scope of the issue.”