ISIS killing children leaving Mosul in Iraq

A child cries leaving Mosul, in May 2017.  A child cries leaving Mosul, in May 2017. Maya Alleruzzo/AP

3 July 2017
As the battle of Mosul against ISIS is close to its end, the group Islamic State is targeting children to prevent their families from fleeing the city

By the end of June 2017, the battle of Mosul was officially declared close to its end, as the terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS), that has been controlled the city in the north of Iraq since June 2014, was almost defeated. According to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), in the last weeks of fighting, ISIS has been continuing to violently target children in order to prevent their families from fleeing the city.

The battle of Mosul started in October 2016, when the Iraqi army, supported by the United States and its allied forces, conducted a military offensive against Islamic State in the city. From then on, Mosul, considered the last stronghold of ISIS in Iraq, has been progressively retaken by Iraqi forces. As of June 2017, the Islamic State presence in Mosul has been significantly reduced to few hundreds of armed men in just two small areas, both surrounded by Iraqi soldiers.

The UNICEF's Iraq representative Peter Hawkins said ISIS, in Mosul, has been using children "as a weapon of war". Indeed, as the conflict was intensifying hour by hour, children have been killed or threatened by the terrorist group to prevent civilians from evacuating the areas still under its control. As confirmed by the Iraqi government, more than 850,000 people - including many minors – had already been forced to leave Mosul since October 2016.

The situation in Iraq, and especially in Mosul, remains really serious for children. According to UNICEF, since 2014 Islamic State's soldiers have killed at least 1,045 young boys and girls and have wounded over 1,030 others. Also, around 231 children under the age of 18 have been recruited by several armed groups and around 100,000 minors are still in a dangerous condition in Mosul. Overall, in Iraq, more than five millions of children are in urgent need of aid and over one million have put their education on hold because of war.



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