The forced recruitment is a sign that the hardline militants are growing more desperate as the battle for what was once the de facto capital of their self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate enters its sixth month.
Elite Federal Police and Rapid Response units on Monday resumed their cautious advance on the al-Nuri Mosque in western Mosul’s Old City. But thousands of people took advantage of the fog and rain in the early morning to flee Islamic State-controlled areas and reach the safety of government lines.
The militants were using residents as human shields, hiding in houses and forcing young men to fight, several refugees said.
Ali, a former government worker, said he had hidden his sons in a basement when...