Tue Dec 13, 2016 1:51PM
Displaced Iraqi children, who have fled Mosul, are seen playing on December 3, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Displaced Iraqi children, who have fled Mosul, are seen playing on December 3, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that some 35,000 children have escaped from Mosul since mid-October, when the Iraqi army launched a major offensive to retake the northern city from Daesh terrorists.

"Children are the innocent victims of any conflict and in this conflict are the most innocent victims," Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF Representative in Iraq, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

He further expressed concern over the mental situation of the displaced Iraqi kids, saying that “they're not smiling, they're sad.”

Once Daesh is forced out of Mosul, it will be important to "invest in children's services so this war doesn't continue,” Hawkins added.

The official did not provide the exact number of the children killed, but he said some of them had been targeted by snipers.

"We know that children who have been queuing up for water have been targets," he said, noting, "I saw a photograph of a child this morning who's been shot by a sniper queuing up for water."

The 35,000 children are among some 93,500 people who have fled Mosul since October 17, when Iraqi army troops and allied fighters began an operation to retake Daesh’s last major urban stronghold in the Arab country.

Mosul fell to Daesh in 2014, when the terror outfit began its campaign of death and destruction in parts of Iraq.

Iraqi forces advance against militants

Separately on Tuesday, Iraqi forces made gains against militants in Mosul and wrested control of two villages in western Tal Abtah and Tal Afar.

Iraqi army troops are seen south of Mosul, Iraq, December 12, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)

Iraq's War Media Cell also reported the liberation of the Sanaiyah district in eastern Mosul during clashes that killed 20 Takfiri elements.

Meanwhile, Daesh kidnapped 30 residents of an area in southwestern Nineveh Province, of which Mosul is the capital. An unnamed informed source said the captives were taken to an undisclosed location on charges of leaving the militant-held areas and helping civilians flee the provinces of Kirkuk and Salahuddin.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has vowed Mosul’s full recapture by year-end.