Islamic State (IS) militants have abducted tens of thousands of civilians from around the Iraqi city of Mosul to use as human shields, the UN says.
The group also killed some 190 former members of Iraq’s security services and 42 civilians, apparently for refusing to obey its orders, the UN adds.
Iraqi, Kurdish and allied forces have advanced on their push to retake Mosul, the jihadist group’s de facto capital.
As many as 1.5 million people are believed to remain there.
There are fears IS could use them to defend itself as the operation gets closer to the centre of the city.
“Credible reports” suggested that civilians in sub-districts around Mosul had been forced from their homes and relocated inside the city since the offensive began earlier this month, UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.
Men, women and children from 6,000 families were abducted in areas including Shura, she added.
“Isil’s depraved cowardly strategy is to attempt to use the presence of civilian hostages to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations, effectively using tens of thousands of women, men and children as human shields,” Ms Shamdasani added, using an acronym for IS.
She said the allegations had been corroborated by the UN but added that the true number might be greater.
The UN said last week IS was apparently not allowing families to flee for territory held by the Iraqi army outside Mosul and that civilians suspected of being disloyal to to the group appeared to had been targeted.
The organisation added that only “modest” numbers of people had so far fled Mosul.