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IS civilian killings 'rise in Falluja'

Do Not UseDo Not Use 27/05/2016
Civilians flee Fallujuah, held by Islamic State: Only a few hundred of the thousands trapped in Fallujah have escaped as the city faces dire conditions © AP Only a few hundred of the thousands trapped in Fallujah have escaped as the city faces dire conditions

An increasing number of men and older boys are being killed in the besieged Iraqi city of Falluja for refusing to fight for so-called Islamic State (IS), the UN has warned.

Map showing movement of Iraqi forces towards Falluja (24 May 2016) © BBC Map showing movement of Iraqi forces towards Falluja (24 May 2016)

Government forces are currently trying to recapture the city from IS, one of its two remaining Iraqi strongholds.

About 50,000 civilians are trapped and supplies are so low there are reports people have starved to death.

Those that have been able to flee have described dire conditions inside.

Islamic State: The full story

"We have dramatic reports of the increase of the number of executions of men and older boys, refusing to fight on behalf of Isil," said Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, using an alternative acronym for IS.

"Other reports say a number of people attempting to depart have been executed, or whipped. One man's leg was amputated reportedly."

With routes out of the city cut off and IS preventing people from leaving, the UN says only about 800 people have escaped in recent days.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, who spoke to some of the families who fled, said the situation there was "critical".

"It's imperative that the warring parties give the thousands of women, men and children a safe exit now, and allow aid to reach the most vulnerable," the NRC's Country Director in Iraq, Nasr Muflahi, said.

Falluja fell to IS in 2014, a key moment in its rise that saw it declare a caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The Iraqi government, backed by US air power, launched its offensive to retake Falluja earlier this week, and is reportedly battling the militants in surrounding villages.

Mohammed's story

Mohammed and his family fled Falluja on Sunday, walking through the desert to a refugee camp. This is what he told the NRC.

"Hunger was our main motive to flee, as well as the constant fear of Isis (Islamic State).

"Last time we ate rice was four months ago, but we were not the worst off. Others have had no food for much longer.

"For the past months we fed on dried dates. It was rotting, stale dates that we could find, so we had to dry it in the sun to remove the bad smell before eating it.

"We got our drinking water directly from the river. But only those families with men who have bicycles have this privilege to fetch the river water. It's considered better than the water from the agricultural network.

"Those channels are salty, dirty and they found animal carcasses floating in them. It's used for cleaning and bathing, but those without men and bicycles end up drinking it too."

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