Residents of Mosul said ISIS was using civilians as human shields as Iraqi and Kurdish forces captured outlying villages in their advance on the extremists’ stronghold.
The leader of ISIS was reported to be among thousands of hard-line militants still in the city, suggesting the group would go to great lengths to repel the coalition.
With attacking forces still between 20 and 50 km (12-30 miles) away, residents reached by telephone said more than 100 families had started moving from southern and eastern suburbs most exposed to the offensive to more central parts of the city.
ISIS militants were preventing people fleeing Mosul, they said, and one said they directed some towards buildings they had recently used themselves.
“It’s quite clear Daesh (ISIS) has started to use civilians as human shields by allowing families to stay in buildings likely to be targeted by airstrikes,” said Abu Mahir, who lives near the city’s university.
Like other residents contacted in the city, he refused to give his full name, but Abdul Rahman Waggaa, a member of the exiled Provincial Council of Nineveh of which Mosul is the capital, corroborated his account to Reuters.