ISIS forces thousands of civilians to retreat with them from town near Mosul – UN

Jihadists near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have forced 1,500 families to retreat alongside them as militants are pushed out by a joint US-backed offensive. Aid organizations say they are concerned by the "significant humanitarian consequences" of the military operation.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists forced civilians to accompany them as they retreated from the town of Hammam al-Alil towards Mosul airport, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ravina Shamdasani announced Tuesday.

Along with 1,500 families, IS kidnapped 295 former members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

"People forcibly moved or abducted, it appears, are either intended to be used as human shields or – depending on their perceived affiliations – killed," the UN official said, as cited by Reuters.

With more than a million people believed to be trapped in the Mosul area, humanitarian organizations have warned that the US-led operation to retake the city could lead to dire consequences for civilians.

While terrorists' tactics to use people as human shields are "totally unacceptable and illegal," they also put certain obligations on those fighting the militants in the densely populated areas, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) official told RT.

"Other warring parties [should] plan their military operations and act accordingly to do everything in their power to reduce the suffering of civilians," ICRC Director of International Law and Policy, Helen Durham said.

READ MORE: US-led coalition turned Mosul op into ‘medieval slaughter’– Russian FM spokeswoman

"From the ICRC perspective, the use of military in the way that is being discussed potentially creates significant humanitarian consequences," she added, saying that the humanitarian organization "needs to constantly remind all parties to the conflict that they have obligations to respect the laws of war, to make sure there is safe humanitarian passage for the many in need and to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure is treated with respect and safety."

The Red Cross representative also stressed that the organization "is very concerned about the civilian death toll" in the Mosul offensive.

Last week, the UN human rights spokesperson announced that the terrorist group had killed over 400 people around Mosul. The militants executed 180 former Iraqi government officials and some 200 other civilians inside the city, according to the UN data. Some 1,600 people from the town of Hammam al-Alil were transported by IS to other areas possibly for use as human shields against airstrikes.