BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the fighting in Iraq (all times local):
The United Nations’ human rights office says the Islamic State group appears to be using tens of thousands of civilians in and around the Iraqi city of Mosul as "human shields."
It has received reports of more than 200 people being killed for refusing to comply with IS orders or previously belonging to Iraqi security forces.
Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said Friday in Geneva that "credible reports" suggest IS has been forcing tens of thousands from their homes in districts around Mosul.
She said: "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."
Shamdasani says 232 people, mostly former officers, were reportedly shot Wednesday, and 24 Tuesday.
The U.S. military says Iraqi forces have retaken 40 villages from the Islamic State group near Mosul since a massive operation to drive the militants from the city began last week.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Isler said Friday that Iraqi troops are consolidating gains made east and south of the city earlier this week, but insisted "momentum" was still on their side.
The fight to retake Mosul, which fell to IS in a matter of days in the summer of 2014, is the largest military operation undertaken in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Isler says the U.S.-led coalition has stepped up airstrikes against the militants, and is carrying out three times as many as it did during previous campaigns to drive IS from other Iraqi cities.