3 000 flee­ing Iraqis seized by ISIL:UN

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

FIGHT­ERS from the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL) have re­port­edly cap­tured up to 3 000 flee­ing vil­lagers in north­ern Iraq, ac­cord­ing to the UN refugee agency, or UNHCR.

In its daily re­port on events in Iraq, UNHCR said yes­ter­day that 12 of the cap­tives were thought to had been ex­e­cuted by ISIL, also known as ISIS.

“UNHCR has re­ceived reports that ISIL cap­tured on 4 Au­gust up to 3 000 IDPs (in­ter­nally displaced peo­ple) from vil­lages in Haw­iga district in Kirkuk gover­norate try­ing to flee to Kirkuk city,” UNHCR said.

“Re­port­edly, 12 of the IDPs have been killed in cap­tiv­ity.”

The vil­lagers were on the run from fighting in Kirkuk prov­ince and seek­ing safety in the nearby city of the same name, a UN spokesman also told DPA news agency.

The oil-rich Kirkuk prov­ince is di­vided be­tween ar­eas mainly con­trolled by the Kur­dish au­ton­o­mous re­gion and ar­eas held by ISIL.

ISIL over­ran large ar­eas north and west of the cap­i­tal, Bagh­dad, in 2014, but has since lost ground to Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and other fight­ers.

The hard­line group has re­sponded to the bat­tle­field set­backs by strik­ing civil­ians, and ex­perts have warned that there may be fur­ther at­tacks as it con­tin­ues to lose ground.

Last last month, the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross warned that up to one mil­lion Iraqis risk fac­ing dis­place­ment in the com­ing weeks as fighting in­ten­si­fies ahead of a gov­ern­ment of­fen­sive to re­take Mo­sul, Iraq’s sec­ond largest city, from ISIL.

Mo­sul, which fell to ISIL in June 2014, was once home to some two mil­lion peo­ple, but the cur­rent pop­u­la­tion has been es­ti­mated at around half that fig­ure, with the num­ber of those flee­ing their homes in­creas­ing.

UNHCR has be­gun build­ing a site north­east of Mo­sul for 6 000 peo­ple and is pre­par­ing an­other north­west of the city for 15 000, a frac­tion of those ex­pected to need shel­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to the UN, ap­prox­i­mately 10 mil­lion Iraqis are in need of hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance, with 3,3 mil­lion al­ready displaced from their homes within the coun­try. — AlJazeera.

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