Islamic State jihadists have killed at least 15 children as they tried to escape from the beleaguered northern Iraqi city of Mosul, according to a local TV report on Thursday.
The children have been shot dead by IS snipers or used as human shields, Iraqi's independent Al Sumaria satellite TV said, quoting local sources.
"IS militiamen are using the worst killing methods on civilians who are fleeing Mosul - explosive devices, shooting children and using them as human shields," Al Sumaria cited an unnamed source as saying.
"Iraqi security forces have inflicted heaving losses on IS including its fighters and equipment as they have advanced and liberated various areas of the city," the source was cited as saying.
The government in mid-October launced an offensive to route IS from its last major city stronghold in Iraq and special forces and army units entered the city's eastern outskirts at the start of this month.
However, their progress has since been slowed by sniper fire, suicide car bomb attacks and the presence of more than a million civilians still living in the embattled city.
The situation remains fraught with danger for residents close to the front line in Mosul's eastern districts, where IS militants are dug in with civilians, according to the United Nations.