Story highlights

A dozen people reportedly killed in ISIS captivity, UN refugee agency says

Group says ISIS uses captives as human shields in fight against Iraqi troops

CNN  — 

ISIS militants have captured up to 3,000 people displaced from their homes trying to flee conflict zones in northern Iraq, the United Nations said Friday, reportedly killing 12 of them.

More than 4 million people have been displaced within Iraq.

The UN refugee agency said it had received reports that ISIS rounded up the thousands of internally displaced people Thursday from villages as they tried to escape to the city of Kirkuk.

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“Reportedly, 12 of the IDPs have been killed in captivity,” the agency said in its daily Iraq update, using an acronym for internally displaced persons.

The battle for Mosul

The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that an estimated 100 to 120 ISIS militants had captured around 1,900 civilians.

It said the militants were using the captives as human shields in fighting against Iraqi forces.

The move is the latest by ISIS militants to retain a grip on swaths of the country as Iraqi forces, backed by US-led airstrikes, try to recapture Mosul, ISIS’ most significant stronghold outside Syria.

Iraqis pack up a lifetime as they flee ISIS-held Mosul in the dark of night

The operation to liberate Mosul has been months in the making and involves coordination between Iraq’s military, Kurdish forces and the US-led airstrikes.

There are more than 4 million internally displaced persons in Iraq, according to data from the UN refugee agency, which said the fall of Ramadi in May 2015 “resulted in significant levels of new displacement, mostly in Anbar Governorate.” Iraq subsequently recaptured Ramadi from ISIS.

Iraqi forces retake air base from ISIS near Mosul, Prime Minister says

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that ISIS had committed “heinous crimes” that may constitute war crimes and genocide.