The United Nations just reported that Islamic State (IS) fighters captured Thursday up to 3 thousand Iraqis that were trying to flee their village to Kirkuk city. Civilians that were going to the Kurdish-controlled city were shot by IS men, killing 2 and capturing about 100 people. The rest was forced to return to their homes.
Maj Gen Sirwan Barzani, a senior Kurdish commander, said that Iraqis were escaping from 3 IS-held villages around Hawija to seek shelter in the Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk, which is about 30 miles southwest from Hawija. According to another Kurdish commander, only 40 individuals manage to cross to the city, BBS reports.
The U.N. refugee agency received similar information, but their sources said that 12 people, and not 2, were killed in the clash with IS forces. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees officials stated on Friday that they had not confirmed this information.
In the past, the Islamic State has used civilians as a human shield against airstrikes, and that could be the reason behind their actions. When IS won much of north and western Iraq in 2014, the extremist group held hostage thousands of women and children to used them as slaves and child soldiers.
Since 2014, IS and Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been fighting for control in the area after IS forces conquered Hawija.
And from the past two years, Hawija and its surroundings have been the target of U.S. and Iraqi airstrikes. These attacks target IS soldiers and their strongholds. And till today, the Iraqi government strongly relies on U.S.-led coalition airstrikes to support their ground forces to defeat the Islamic State finally.
But despite the success of airstrikes in some parts of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State still has thousand of children and women under their control.
IS power has been weakened in some towns, but the terrorist group still controls important capitals like Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. This conflict has displaced over 3.4 million people only in Iraq by 2016.
It takes money to fight the Islamic State, but the UN has received nothing
NBC News reports that last month the U.N. announced that they would need $284 million to prepare aid for an assault on Mosul. They also said that an extra $1.8 million would also be required to cover the aftermath. But till this date, the U.N. Financial Tracking Services has reported no funds to the operation.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees already started to build a site for 6 thousand people northeast Mosul and is also preparing a second site northwest the city for 15 thousand refugees, which is expected that a fraction of those will need shelter.
Source: The New York Times