Iraqi government: IS downs army helicopter over Mosul

Bahaa Fransaw cuts kebab meat for his food stall in Hamdaniya Iraq. Five months on from its capture by Iraqi troops Hamdaniya- which lies between Irbil and Mosul- stands as

ISIS militants executed 140 civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the Security Council of the Iraqi Kurdistan region posted on its Twitter page.

The militants are dug in surrounded by civilians, effectively using them as human shields and taking advantage of the narrow streets of the Old City that restrict the movements of the Iraqi forces and limit the use of artillery and air power.

"Their appearance was shocking. We weren't able to get them down and they have been there for two days", he told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Thousands of families have attempted to escape the Islamic State-held areas at night, but some are captured and killed by the group, residents added.

Iraqi government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have made new territorial gains on the western outskirts of Mosul as they engage in joint operations to flush Takfiri Daesh terrorists out of their last urban stronghold in the Arab country.

Fierce fighting has continued in western Mosul as Iraqi forces battle to retake the Old City, where 400,000 people are believed to be living.

Naturally, many are trying to flee, but a lot of them are finding themselves targeted by ISIS forces, who have killed a number of would-be refugees, band in many cases have hung their bodies from utility poles in an attempt to intimidate anyone else thinking of fleeing.

A woman who successfully managed to flee said she escaped while militants were distracted checking her bag for valuables.

"I fear those (families) who stayed in Daesh's grip met a awful fate", she added.

The battle for Mosul has raged for almost six months and supplies have dwindled sharply as Iraqi forces secured the city's east bank and sealed their siege on the jihadists' last redoubts on the west side.

USA military sources say that IS is using the civilian population as human shields in order to maximize casualties, giving the militants a propaganda boost.

Families have been trying to escape after a recent spike in civilian deaths amid operations to liberate the northern city.

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