As the Iraqi army attempts to drive ISIS out of the city of Fallujah, ISIS is holding thousands of civilians hostage, and using hundreds as human shields against US-led coalition airstrikes.

GENEVA- ISIS forces are reported to be holding several hundred families as “human shields” in the Iraqi city of Falluja while government forces close in, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday, citing witness accounts.

Some 3,700 people have fled Fallujah, west of Baghdad, over the past week since the Iraqi army began its offensive on the city controlled by militant forces, it said.

“UNHCR has received reports of casualities among civilians in the city centre of Falluja due to heavy shelling, including 7 members of one family on the Saturday,” UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told a news briefing.

“There are also reports of several hundred families being used as human shields by ISIS in the center of Fallujah.”

Iraqi forces shelling Fallujah (Photo: Reuters)
Iraqi forces shelling Fallujah (Photo: Reuters)


The accounts come from displaced people who have spoken to UNHCR field staff, spokeswoman Ariane Rummery said.

“Most people able to get out come from the outskirts of Fallujah. For some time militants have been controlling movements, we know civilians have been prevented from fleeing. There are also reports from people who left in recent days that they are being required to move with ISIS within Fallujah,” she told Reuters.

ISIS militants fought back vigorously overnight and parried an onslaught by the Iraqi army on a southern district of Fallujah, officers said.

Iraqi authorities are holding some 500 men and boys under the age of 12 for “security screening” as they leave the city, a clearance process that can take up to seven days, Spindler said.

“But people are being released after this process and we understand that 27 men were released Monday after being screened,” he said.

As reported by Ynetnews