GENEVA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Civilians located in the Iraqi city of Mosul are falling victim to airstrikes targeting Islamic State (IS) combatants, the UN human rights body (OHCHR) warned Tuesday, adding that "it is difficult to verify how many civilians may have been killed or injured."
This is mainly because IS insurgents are continuing to use civilian houses and infrastructure as bases while using civilians as human shields, the UN rights body explained.
OHCHR urged all parties to the conflict to take necessary precautions to ensure that civilians do not get caught up in fighting between Iraqi government forces and IS fighters who have held the city since 2014.
According to reports, Iraqi security forces backed by Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition aircraft have almost completely recaptured east Mosul after 100 days of fierce fighting, with operations to take back western parts of the northern city set to begin in the coming weeks.
"We are deeply concerned about the safety and humanitarian conditions of people who remain in IS-occupied western Mosul city, which it is estimated could be as many as 750,000" OHCHR continued.
"Reports suggest that IS fighters have taken over hospitals in western Mosul city and are using them as military bases, and that they are diverting available resources, including food, water and medicines, to their fighters," it added.
The UN body also warned that it had received a large number of reports warning that civilians are being killed and wounded by IS shells, improvised explosive devices, suicide attacks as well as snipers in areas now under government control.
Those attempting to flee have also been targeted, OHCHR added.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures, over 160,000 people have fled Mosul and its adjacent districts since the military campaign kicked off in October last year.