Islamic State 'hangs traitors bodies from poles in Mosul'
Islamic State fighters have killed some 70 civilians in Mosul this week over accusations of collaboration with Iraqi forces pushing into the city to drive them out, the United Nations has said.
It said in a report that IS reportedly shot and killed 40 people on Tuesday after accusing them of "treason and collaboration", dressing them in orange jumpsuits and hanging their bodies from electrical poles.
The report said that in another incident, the extremists reportedly shot to death 20 civilians in the Ghabat Military Base on charges of leaking information.
Those bodies were hung at various traffic lights in Mosul, with notes stating that they had used mobile phones to leak information.
The reports were the latest evidence of IS exactions on civilians as it retreats into dense urban quarters of Iraqi's second largest city.
Iraqi troops are inching ahead in their battle to retake Mosul
The UN also revealed fresh evidence the extremists have used chemical weapons.
Exchanging small arms and mortar fire with IS positions, the special forces have entered the Qadisiya neighbourhood, advancing slowly to avoid killing civilians and trying to avoid being surprised by suicide car bombers, said Brigadier General Haider Fadhil.
Regular army troops control 90% of the Intisar neighbourhood, said one officer, but progress had slowed because "the streets are too narrow for our tanks".
Iraqi troops are converging from several fronts on Mosul, the second-largest city and the last major IS holdout in Iraq. Kurdish peshmerga forces are holding a line north of the city, while Iraqi army and militarised police units approach from the south, and government-sanctioned Shiite militias guard western approaches.
The offensive has slowed recently as the special forces - the troops that have advanced the farthest - push into more densely populated areas of eastern Mosul, where they cannot rely as much on air strikes and shelling because of the risk to civilians who have been told to stay in their homes.
Meanwhile, the UN human rights office has cited new details as proof that IS is using chemical weapons, which many fear the extremist group has and is saving for if they are cornered or about to lose the city, still home to more than a million people.
Amid concerns about IS' use of human shields in the city, rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said four people died from inhaling fumes after IS shelled and set fires to the al-Mishrag Sulfur Gas Factory in Mosul on October 23.
Speaking to reporters in Geneva, Ms Shamdasani said reports indicated IS has stockpiled "large quantities" of ammonia and sulphur that have been placed in the same areas as civilians.
"We can only speculate how they intend to use this," she said. "We are simply raising the alarm that this is happening, that this is being stockpiled."
She added that international law requires protection of civilians near such chemicals.
"There does not have to be an intention to target civilians with the use of these chemical weapons, but particular care must be taken to avoid this affecting civilians," Ms Shamdasani said.
"If that particular care is not taken, or if action is taken instead through negligence or through active action, to cause damage to civilians, then this is clearly prohibited - this is a war crime."
UN officials say about 48,000 people have now fled Mosul since the government campaign began on October 17.